Why we need to invest in natural climate solutions now

There is a growing tide of negative sentiment towards nature-based solutions (NbS). If this groundswell of negativity continues unabated, there is a very real risk that nature-based solutions lose the investment so desperately needed for their success. This would be nothing short of disastrous for the climate, for local ecosystems, and for the people most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

This article first appeared on the Taking Root website.

This is not just our opinion. The facts are clear. Research shows that nature-based solutions can provide up to 37% of the emissions reductions needed by 2030 to keep global climate goals in reach. If this is to be realised, investments into NbS need to double by 2025, and triple by 2030. As it stands, we need more investment into nature-based solutions, not less. Activities such as forest restoration are not just ‘nice to haves’; they are essential.

Why are nature-based solutions under attack?

Why, then, are nature-based solutions under attack? The answer lies in the human tendency to focus on the bad, rather than the good.

One of the most effective ways NbS have been financed to date is through the carbon markets. In recent years, the voluntary carbon market has experienced a huge influx of investment, having leapt from a value of $520 million in 2020 to $2 billion in 2021. This rapid growth has attracted greater scrutiny and demands for transparency. This is a good thing. Scrutiny and transparency are exactly what’s needed to raise the bar on quality so greater impacts can be achieved.

However, in placing the VCM under the spotlight, it has become apparent that NbS projects vary in type, scope, and quality. There are initiatives that are creating truly meaningful impacts to the benefit of climate, nature, and local communities. Yet they are being overshadowed by those which do not meet the necessary standards, prompting some factions to discount the concept of nature-based solutions entirely.

This is completely the wrong approach. Instead, what society should be doing is recognising those high-quality projects, learning from them, and investing funds so that we can both grow and replicate them. Ultimately, the question should not be whether to invest in nature-based solutions. That should be an unequivocal ‘yes’. Rather, the question should be: what are the right projects to invest in?

What do quality nature-based solutions look like?

That leads us to examine the hallmarks of a high-quality NbS project. From our experience in developing forest restoration projects such as CommuniTree, we know that first and foremost, there must be a focus on improving people’s livelihoods. In building for livelihoods, landowners and land managers are not only incentivised to grow trees, they are also incentivised to keep those trees in the ground. This promotes the durability, and therefore the success, of a forest carbon removal project. When building for livelihoods, equitable benefit sharing is just one of the components that must be delivered, along with mechanisms to provide value over time, be it through access to local value chains or global commodity markets.

Woman wearing a blue top smiles at the camera as she leans against a tree trunk.
Through high-quality forest carbon removal projects, smallholder farmers such as Arminda Troche can improve their livelihoods by growing trees.

Beyond livelihoods, forest restoration initiatives must work in service of nature. That means growing native tree species, encouraging natural regeneration, and carefully selecting land that is suitable for restoration. Interventions should be based on robust science-based carbon forecasting, and progress regularly monitored and reported so that outcomes can be tracked transparently. Third-party validation and verification provide further confirmation as to a project’s legitimacy.

Then there is the matter of variability. Forest carbon removal projects work with people and nature. Trees will die. Parcels will not grow as intended. Landowners will sell up and leave the project. Such situations are entirely normal and do not constitute ‘failures’. What’s important is that the project design accounts for these scenarios to ensure that the impacts claimed are realised.

NbS projects that deliver on these hallmarks of quality achieve so much more than carbon impacts. Yes, removing carbon from the atmosphere is an important outcome. But by investing in nature-based solutions such as forest restoration, funders and investors are also contributing towards a range of socio-economic and environmental impacts in communities and landscapes often most vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis. This includes rehabilitating ecosystems, improving water security, creating jobs, and promoting biodiversity.

A man stands next to a well full of water.
In photo: CommuniTree farmer Ernesto Cedeño Mendoza next to his well, which he says was “always dry” prior to joining the program.

How do we finance NbS to scale impact?

Having set the standard for quality, the next step is to identify the initiatives that meet this standard and provide them with the necessary funding to facilitate growth and amplify their impact. There are various funding mechanisms available, with carbon financing being one of the most viable options. However, creating high quality carbon removals and reductions through nature-based solutions depends on upfront financing, be it through initial investment or the purchase of ex-ante or forward order credits.

Ex-ante or forward order credits represent a removal activity that will take place in the future. They are often seen as less valuable than ex-post credits, where the removal has already taken place. But the sale and purchase of ex-post credits alone will not enable climate goals to be attained for one simple reason: project economics.

Take a forest restoration project, for example. Depending on the context, it can take 20+ years for carbon sequestration targets to be fully achieved. In the meantime, project developers must cover the cost of establishing a project, managing operations, and providing value to those implementing climate solutions at a local level. Projects need support from corporates and investors to cover these upfront costs to fully commit to local communities over long timeframes. If this support is lost, there won’t be enough money to grow trees and communities may come to see NbS as another failed promise for economic prosperity. So, if we don’t invest in growing trees now, we lose a high-potential solution to the address the climate and biodiversity crises.

A forest.
In photo: A forest grown through the CommuniTree Carbon Program. The impacts created are entirely additional: they would not have happened without upfront financing.

Investing in high quality projects for meaningful impacts

Research shows that companies that engage in the carbon market are nearly twice as likely to be decarbonising their operations year-on-year. Those that use higher quality and more expensive credits have better emissions performance. There is, therefore, a clear correlation between investment, quality, and impact. This reality should not be overlooked as we navigate the growing pains of the nascent voluntary carbon market. We have narrowing window of opportunity to mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis and restore nature. Nature-based solutions can sequester carbon, restore ecosystems, and improve livelihoods. These solutions are available to us now, with huge potential for scale. If we are to secure a nature-positive future, support must be galvanised for NbS, and that support must be galvanised with immediate effect, for the benefit of us all.

What to Watch for Voluntary Carbon and Article 6 at COP 28

Year-end climate talks are focused on the global stock-take, which involves more than just taking stock of past actions. The primary agenda is to create mechanisms for dramatically scaling ambition up for the next five years.

Earlier this month, the government of Rwanda attached a “Letter of Authorization” to carbon credits purchased by German nonprofit Atmosfair. In it, the government agreed to deduct emission reductions from its national greenhouse gas inventory equal to the number of associated credits exported, and to add those emission reductions to the national account of whichever country buys them.

It marks the first time a “corresponding adjustment” has been applied to an individual carbon project under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement – although similar transactions have occurred between countries, such as Peru and Switzerland.

Under Article 6, corresponding adjustments are required for “Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes” (ITMOs), which are emission reductions transferred from one national account to another. That means in the eyes of the UN they are required for compliance transactions but not for voluntary transactions. That’s because compliance credits are, by their very nature, applied to the emission caps of importing countries, although the exporting, or “host,” country, does have the option of requiring them.

What’s on the Agenda This Year at COP?

On paper, this won’t change at year-end climate talks (COP 28) in Dubai. Negotiators have their hands full with the global stocktake (GST) and pressure to chart a roadmap to significantly deeper reductions by 2028.

While calls for more ambitious targets will inevitably turn to talk about the role of markets, the actual agenda items within the negotiating tracks are limited. A big one is the move to create methodologies for carbon removals under Article 6.4, which is governed by the 24-person Article 6.4 Supervisory Body (A6.4 SB).

The A6.4 SB meets throughout the year, and it serves countries that don’t want to develop their own markets and methodologies. This means it is tasked with the complex task of doing so, but its decisions must also be approved at the COP. They submitted guidance for removals in mid-November.

Most activity is expected to take place through Article 6.2, which covers bilateral transactions among countries. That can involve trading national surplus reductions, or linking Emissions Trading Systems (ETSs), which are already regulated. This makes Article 6.2 simpler.

Article 6.4 credits can also be traded via 6.2, but the issuance of new credits under 6.4 could prove challenging.

“There is a risk that methodologies developed under 6.4 will be too political. Specifically that some methodologies will have to be revisited too often, or that credits will be ‘temporary,’ as was the case under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM),” says Jos Cozijnsen, a former Dutch negotiator now serving as a carbon specialist with the Carbon Neutral Group.

“They may also decide that carbon removals have to be additional to Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets instead of recognized as a tool for meeting NDCs, and this could delay action on removals, where companies invest in a lot these days, and incentivize countries to make less ambitious commitments,” he adds.

COP President Sultan Al Jaber has explicitly stated that “Better-functioning voluntary carbon markets can also channel additional financing to developing countries and support local economies.”

He has pledged to push for “end-to-end” integrity of all carbon transactions, even as UAE-based project developer Blue Carbon inks massive MoUs with African countries and no discernable methodologies. Al Jaber has also called for dramatic reduction in the use of fossil fuels, even as his own country’s negotiating team stands accused of using the event to forge new oil and gas deals.

Beyond the immediate negotiations, the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity (VCMI) initiative is contemplating guidance requiring corresponding adjustments on voluntary carbon transactions, although that won’t happen until next year.

Voluntary Demand: Quality is King

Ecosystem Marketplace’s recent State of Voluntary Carbon Markets Report shows that the overall volume of carbon credits transacted have fallen from a 2021 peak – but at the same time, credit prices rose dramatically. Buyers have shifted away from projects perceived as having lower quality and towards those with less uncertainty around emission reductions and more verifiable co-benefits – a good omen for efforts such as Verra’s SD Vista and the Gold Standard for the Global Goals, both of which aim to quantify impacts related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Forests and Markets

Most participants argue that REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, plus enhancements of carbon stocks in developing countries) is included in the Paris Agreement, even though the acronym is nowhere to be found. That’s because of two related Articles: Article 5 recognizes the need to cooperate on forest conservation, while Article 6 recognizes the transfer of mitigation outcomes.

The rules for implementing Article 6 weren’t finalized until six years after the landmark Paris Agreement, at COP26 in Glasgow. Sluggish talks at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh the following year left key details undefined and open to interpretation. Agreeing on the practical details remains one of the main objectives of COP28.

Beyond the major question of methodologies for removals under Article 6.4, negotiators will consider rules for linking trading systems under 6.2 and nitty gritty issues such as the creation of reporting templates and how countries will submit transactions to the UN for review.

Experts from The Gold Standard says there are already 40 bilateral Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) under Article 6.2, but only three country-to-country deals have been authorized – all involving Switzerland as a buyer.


Steve Zwick of Bionic Planet is reporting live for Ecosystem Marketplace throughout COP28. Check back for more coverage, and follow EM and Steve (here’s his LinkedIn) on social media.

NEW! State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2023 finds VCM demand concentrating around pricier, high-integrity credits

New research published by Ecosystem Marketplace finds evidence of a market-wide shift in the voluntary carbon markets (VCM), with demand concentrating around high-integrity, high-quality carbon credits that have holistic co-benefits beyond the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.  

Transaction data analyzed in the report show a massive 82% leap in average carbon credit prices between 2021 and 2022, paired with a drop in overall transaction volumes. These dynamics suggest a market consolidating around a smaller but committed set of buyers willing to pay premium prices for higher quality credits. Demand is particularly high for nature-based credits that are certified for co-benefits and Sustainable Development Goals, according to the report’s authors.  

Key findings from the report: 

  • Average VCM credit prices are higher than they have been in 15 years, while overall trade volumes are down from a 2021 peak. While the volume of VCM credits traded dropped by 51%, the average price per credit skyrocketed, rising by 82% from $4.04 per ton in 2021 to $7.37 in 2022. To date in 2023, the average credit price is down slightly to $6.97 per ton.

  • This price hike allowed the overall value of the VCM to hold relatively steady in 2022, at just under $2 billion.

  • Credits connected to nature-based solutions were a primary driver of high market value. Nature-based projects, including forestry and land-use and agriculture projects, made up almost half of the market share at 46%. From 2021 to 2022, the average price of these kinds of credits increased by 75% and 14%, respectively. Credits from agriculture projects also increased in volume by 283%.

  • Credits that certified additional robust environmental and social co-benefits “beyond carbon” had a significant price premium. Credits from projects with at least one co-benefit certification had a 78% price premium compared to projects without any co-benefit certification. Experts interviewed by Ecosystem Marketplace emphasized that these certifications are increasingly becoming required by buyers, and many are preferentially seeking them out. Projects working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals also demonstrated a substantial price premium at 86% higher than projects not associated with SDGs – yet another indicator of buyer emphasis on carbon credits that do more for people and the environment.

  • Newer credits are attracting higher prices, indicating that buyers are seeking newer vintages with more robust recent methodologies, or are paying more for credits that align with their current emissions years as much as possible. The premium for carbon credits with a more recent vintage, representing more recent emissions reductions activities, was 57% above older credits, compared with a 38% recency premium in 2021, using a historical five-year rolling cutoff date from the year of transaction.

  • CORSIA-eligible project credits gained market value, driven by a 126% increase in price. This notable growth of CORSIA in the VCM in 2022 indicates a growing relationship between compliance markets and the VCM, a key consideration for market participants because, 1) quality criteria set by CORSIA have been incorporated by the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) until the Integrity Council’s core carbon principles are implemented, 2) CORSIA enters its first compliance phase in 2024, and 3) countries are beginning to implement Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

According to Stephen Donofrio, Managing Director of Ecosystem Marketplace, “This is a critical moment for the voluntary carbon markets. While the data do not show the same type of growth by volume present in previous reports, our market analysis shows a critical, increased shift in market behavior towards integrity and quality, shown by an impressive uptick in average credit price. Buyers in the voluntary carbon markets are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they want to know the true impact of their dollars.” 

The new report from Ecosystem Marketplace analyzes self-reported carbon credit transaction data from over 160 respondents to their annual market survey, representing credits from 1,530 projects and over 130 project types traded worldwide. Respondents typically include project developers, investors, and intermediaries. Data on project registrations and credit issuances and retirements were sourced from project registries. 

The full report, Paying for Quality: State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2023, is available for download here. 

Shades of REDD+
Harmonized Biodiversity Claims as a Solution for Fragmented Biodiversity Markets

22 November 2023 | Interest in market-based approaches to support of biodiversity conservation and restoration has grown significantly since December 2022, when the Parties to the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF.) The GBF sets a financial target of mobilizing at least USD 200 billion per year by 2030 for biodiversity protection and restoration. Since public finance will fall short of this target, the GBF recognizes that “innovative schemes such as payment for ecosystem services, green bonds, biodiversity offsets and credits, and benefit-sharing mechanisms, with environmental and social safeguards” (GBF Target 19) may be needed to close financing gaps.

In October, Climate Focus published Biodiversity Credits Markets: Charting Pathways for Early Investment and Sustainable Market Growth, a paper that provides guidance to investors by categorizing different ‘biocredit schemes,’ i.e., frameworks that seek to create tradable, non-offset biodiversity certificates. The findings of the paper make clear that, so far, there is no promising emerging approach that could channel significant amounts of private finance to high-biodiversity value ecosystems in the Global South. One way to create incentives for private finance to flow via biodiversity conservation in the light of multiple and mostly localized biocredit systems is the formulation of a set of headline contribution claims that recognize financial contributions to biodiversity. Such contribution claims would be non-tradeable confirmations of financial contributions to biodiversity protection by private actors. Standardized biodiversity contribution claims would allow corporates to communicate and report support for biodiversity protection, and governments could recognize such contributions in support of GBF Target 19.

Challenges and risks of a global biodiversity market

Global markets in certified biodiversity credits modelled after carbon markets has been touted as a solution to mobilize funding from private sources. However, biocredits markets come with important caveats:

  • First, while offsetting environmental harms with environmental goods is contested but often accepted in carbon markets, offsetting is simply unacceptable in global biodiversity markets. Carbon markets trade offsets because reducing greenhouse gas emissions may, to some extent, be fungible, but nature is definitively not fungible. Biodiversity is highly context specific: the loss of species in one place cannot be compensated by creating new habitats in another.
  • Second, finding metrics that apply to conservation or restoration outcomes in widely differing habitats is close to impossible. Therefore, generating biocredits requires the definition of ecosystem-specific indicators, which makes the standardization of a biocredit unit difficult.
  • Third, markets may disproportionately allocate funds to conservation over restoration to prioritize short term crediting of “uplifts” or investments into “charismatic” species’ habitats over long-term conservation goals.
  • Fourth, biodiversity restoration requires engagement over long timeframes, which makes the year-to-year verification and financing required for biocredits challenging.

As an alternative approach to biocredits schemes, biodiversity markets could be tagged to carbon markets and companies could be encouraged to invest in carbon credits with positive biodiversity impact attributes. The advantage of this option is that the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD Vista) and the Gold Standard for the Global Goals (GS4GG) already offer certification systems for biodiversity attributes. However, such attribute certifications also limit biodiversity investments to projects that have reducing greenhouse gas emissions or enhancing carbon removals as their primary goals. This means that attribute biodiversity finance will not be able to mobilize financing for the conservation of high-integrity ecosystems because emission reductions or removals credits cannot be generated from projects in ecosystems that are not under threat. Additionally, tying biodiversity investments to carbon markets with their uncertain future also creates risks for the future of biocredits markets.

National and local incentive schemes can be more targeted

An increasing number of national and local payment-for-ecosystem services (PES) systems that value biodiversity investments are emerging. These include government-driven initiatives such as the Australia’s Nature Repair Market Bill or the UK’s Nature Markets Framework, private initiatives such as NaturePlus credits designed by GreenCollar in Australia, and Voluntary Biodiversity Credits designed by Terrasos and ClimateTrade in Colombia. National schemes have the advantage that they can be tailored to specific ecological contexts and promote specific national conservation goals. Government-driven regulatory systems have the additional advantage that they link credit generation to mandatory compensation rules, which create demand for investments into biodiversity by allowing liable entities to fulfill their obligations by purchasing credits. Local PES systems can be even more targeted because they rely on simpler protocols than national schemes or international markets, and can be more specific in the definition of biodiversity-related action. Both national and local systems can be more easily aligned with countries’ policies than international schemes.

A significant disadvantage of local and national systems is that because they are specific to ecological and policy contexts, their metrics are often not comparable, and these systems are unlikely to produce standardized credits that can be transferred internationally. These systems may be limited in scope and scale, and they rarely mobilize international finance. National and local schemes are also confusing for international investors, who have little appetite to appraise dozens of different systems and schemes. Even if investors decide to explore national or local markets, evaluating equivalence between benefits generated in different countries is a daunting task.

Creating internationally accepted claims in lieu of credits

While lacking the versatility of a global biodiversity credit market, a preliminary solution to the biodiversity financing challenge may be the definition of a set of standardized biodiversity claims that recognize investments into biodiversity and contributions to Target 19 of the GBF without requiring the transfer or “use” of biocredits. Such harmonized contribution claims could create incentives for international investors to support a range of approved local or international biodiversity supporting PES or crediting systems. Instead of certifying credits based on biodiversity outcomes, an international governance body could focus on certifying credible biocrediting schemes that meet a set of minimum requirements (e.g., policy alignment, clear definition of biodiversity outcomes, and verification of such outcomes.) In other words, a system of claim governance would focus on accrediting biodiversity supporting systems that could be supported by international investors.

A set of recognized nature-related contribution claims could enhance the appeal to corporates of investments in biodiversity and fill the gap in investment incentives left by the absence of harmonized international biocredit schemes. The proposed claims could be recognized by The Global Goal for Nature as fulfilling nature-positive goals, the Science Based Targets Network as meeting science-based targets for nature, or the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures. The claims would ensure international recognition of local biodiversity investments while navigating and avoiding the challenges that come with biodiversity credits markets. The proposed claims could

  • be linked to investments in national biodiversity credits schemes as well as in emerging international systems that meet a set of minimum program requirements set by the contribution claim framework
  • reflect the amounts invested, the approved biocredit scheme, and the country of investment
  • recognize biodiversity investments as valuable contributions to Target 19 of the GBF
  • require the retirement of biocredits that are linked to the proposed claims; should credits be issued by an approved program they would have to be retired
  • be linked to criteria for a company’s biodiversity performance and require companies to demonstrate positive biodiversity outcomes across their value chains as well as mainstreaming of biodiversity concerned throughout the entire organization.

A solution?

In sum, global markets for biodiversity credits face significant, possibly prohibitive, challenges. Encouraging investments in “co-benefits” of carbon projects enhances the value of such projects but is unlikely to mobilize investments into biodiversity at scale and limits investment to a very narrow set of GHG mitigating activities. Investing in emerging national or local systems is unlikely to appeal to international investors because they have to navigate a thicket of different contexts. One way forward may be a set of nature-related claims that are recognized by national governments as positive contributions to the GBF and allow corporates to communicate their commitments to biodiversity conservation and restoration.

The proposed contribution claim approach could be implemented relatively quickly and would avoid multiple entities getting stuck in lengthy, costly, and competitive processes to develop frameworks, registries, and other infrastructure required for biodiversity credits markets. The proposed claims could be reported in a fully transparent and comparable way and reward companies with recognition for their international engagement in biodiversity protection.

Photo credit: Michael Philips

What role can carbon markets play in preserving forests?

14 November 2023 | Ever since REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) burst on to the international scene at the climate change negotiations in 2008, market-based transactions of forest carbon have been envisaged as a way of transferring billions of dollars of climate finance. The hope was that funds would flow not just to the governments of tropical-forested developing countries but further on to indigenous peoples, forest-dependent local communities, and those protecting forests.


To date, this has not happened. Of the market-based climate finance that has flowed during the past 15 years, it has been primarily through REDD+ projects in the voluntary carbon markets (VCMs). This has not been anywhere near sufficient to ensure the preservation of the world’s great forests biomes. After slowing slightly in 2021, this year’s Forest Declaration Assessment reports that global deforestation rates increased in 2022. Some 66,000 square kilometers of forest were lost, putting the world 21% off track to meet the goal of ending deforestation by 2030 set by more than 140 countries at COP26 in Glasgow (after previous pledges of ending deforestation by 2020 were already missed).

With the rapid increase in companies setting net-zero targets and committing to offset their emissions, there was great hope that VCMs, through REDD+ projects, would drive climate finance to forests. However, since an article published in The Guardian in January this year revealed that “more than 90% of rainforest carbon offsets by the biggest certifier are worthless,” there has been a steady stream of news reports questioning the integrity – indeed, the validity – of REDD+ VCM credits.

In mid-October, The New Yorker published a long exposé on the Kariba mega-project in Zimbabwe – one of the largest REDD+ projects. Forest carbon projects like this are responsible for about a third of all carbon credits certified by Verra, the world’s leading standard setter for VCMs. Now with the reported collapse of the Kariba project and the price of REDD+ project carbon credits at an all-time low, project-level REDD+ offset credits are mortally wounded.

In addition to the issues raised in the press, it is becoming clear that transition plans to net zero that are considered “high integrity” will only allow a small proportion of a company’s value chain emissions to be offset with forest carbon project credits. So, while REDD+ project credits might continue to be developed as offsets for residual emissions within value chains, and while project methodologies, monitoring, and carbon accounting data will continue to improve, such credits are unlikely to be highly rated. What’s more, there will always be questions regarding the integrity of these carbon offsets.

Yet REDD+ is essential if the global community has any chance of meeting the Paris Agreement targets by 2030. There is certainly a need to reward tropical-forest developing countries for the efforts they make in reducing deforestation and forest degradation. Are there market mechanisms other than project credits that can direct desperately needed climate finance to these countries to support their Paris Agreement ambitions (referred to as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs) and help preserve forests?

Jurisdictional REDD+ offset units

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), REDD+ does not include project-level methodologies. VCM REDD+ projects took off separately while the UNFCCC approach was still being negotiated. The UNFCCC takes a “jurisdictional” approach (J-REDD+), where reductions in emissions from deforestation and forest degradation are measured against national, historical levels based on the government’s national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory.

Many of the integrity concerns raised with REDD+ VCM credits are better addressed at the jurisdictional level – for example, leakage, inflated baselines, inflated methodologies, or lack of additionality (GHG reductions are not considered additional if they would have happened anyway without a market for offset credits). Moreover, tropical-forest developing countries have been building their capacities to deliver J-REDD+ results for the past 15 years. J-REDD+, therefore, has the potential to supply the largest volume of high-quality, nature-based climate results.

The market for J-REDD+ is just getting going, with the creation of an international standard for J-REDD+ credits called TREES. There has been initial interest from the market for TREES units, as evidenced by the LEAF Coalition. Hopes are therefore high that jurisdictional approaches could be a game-changer in the carbon market, with the potential to deliver large-scale, high-quality issuances.

However, J-REDD+ still faces issues – such as carbon rights and permanence – that make it hard to scale up as offsets. The first TREES units were only issued at the end of 2022 (for Guyana) and these were a particular type of TREES units called “high forest, low deforestation” (HFLD) units – for which there are questions about the appropriateness of using as offsets. No other TREES units have been issued yet. Furthermore, the TREES standard is not universally accepted. The Coalition for Rainforest Nations has tried to introduce competing “REDD.plus sovereign credits”. There have been few buyers for these units, but it has caused confusion and added to the uncertainty about REDD+ in the offset market.

Forest ITMOs

“Internationally transferred mitigation outcomes” (ITMOs) were created under Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement to allow countries to collaborate on achieving their NDCs (referred to as “cooperative approaches”). What is unique about ITMOs is the requirement to include a “corresponding adjustment” during the transaction – meaning the emissions reductions or carbon removals are deducted from the host country’s NDC when they are added to the purchasing country’s NDC. Some think corresponding adjustments can solve the integrity concerns associated with forest carbon, making J-REDD+ a perfect match either for sovereign buyers needing to meet their NDC targets, or even for companies looking for “Paris compliant” credits.

Blue Carbon, a sovereign-backed private company based in the United Arab Emirates, has actively entered the market looking to buy forest ITMOs. It has signed memorandums of understanding with several African countries and has had discussions with Suriname – the first country to announce it will be putting forest ITMOs on the market (4.8 million tonnes of CO2e HFLD units).

Some debate continues as to whether forests are included within the ambit of an ITMO. This speaks to the esoteric nature of UNFCCC COP decisions. While there are no specific Article 6.2 eligibility limitations, ITMOs still need to meet requirements to ensure the environmental integrity of the mitigation outcome. This includes the requirement that ITMOs are real, verified, and additional – and manage risks of non-permanence. This could make it hard for forest ITMOs to be considered as high integrity.

Although there is currently very little “case law” for either J-REDD+ or forest ITMOs, neither solves the fundamental limitations of forest carbon (especially emissions reductions) being used as offsets. Whether it is a country wishing to use forest carbon offsets to meet its NDC target, or a company wishing to use forest carbon offsets to achieve its net-zero target, both will continue to face the same “greenwashing” risks that have already been exposed with VCM REDD+ projects. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that forest carbon credits are simply not suitable as offsets.

Beyond value chain mitigation

Is there another market-based approach for forest carbon? There is an emerging concept of “beyond value chain mitigation” (BVCM) contributions as complementary to offsets. BVCM is where a company contributes to the collective global effort to reach net-zero emissions. The mitigation action is not used to offset the company’s emissions. Instead, the buyer makes a “contribution claim,” representing a contribution to both the company’s climate goals and to global mitigation efforts.

The rationale for BVCM is that:

  • companies should be thinking about their role in the global net-zero transition, beyond abating their own emissions
  • companies that do not take clear, credible climate action today – and go beyond commitments, to delivering on targets in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement – risk having their corporate reputation hit
  • there are important sources of emissions outside corporate value chains, such as those linked to subsistence agriculture
  • government policies are not yet sufficiently ambitious to deliver a 1.5°C future

In this way, a company would not be purchasing J-REDD+ credits to offset its own emissions. Instead, it would decarbonize its own value chain and use the purchased J-REDD+ credits to demonstrate that it is making a contribution beyond its own value chain.

This concept is being advocated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), widely considered to be the main driver of high-integrity, net-zero targets. SBTi states:

“Companies should take action or make investments outside their own value chains to mitigate GHG emissions in addition to their near-term and long-term science-based targets. Examples include purchasing high-quality, jurisdictional REDD+ carbon credits that support countries in raising the ambition on – and, in the long-term, achieving – their nationally determined contributions.”

BVCM is perfect for forests. When J-REDD+ credits are not being used to offset actual value-chain emissions but are being claimed as a “climate contribution,” debates such as whether to use emissions reductions versus carbon removals become moot. It also makes the inherent risks (permanence, baselines) more acceptable and questions such as who owns the carbon rights under J-REDD+ more manageable, as a tradeable, commoditized asset is not created.

It is not yet clear if there is a demand for BVCM, but a strong case can be built if BVCM claims are recognized and rewarded. An analysis conducted by Systemiq for SBTi in 2021 found that almost 70% of surveyed companies felt that the private sector should be doing more than abatement of value chain emissions.

If BVCM climate contributions take off, we may finally have found a role that carbon markets can play in preserving forests – and a way to reward tropical-forest developing countries if they can halt deforestation by 2030.

Punish the Leaders, Reward the Laggards?

9 November 2023 | Imagine you worked for a company where staff were asked to innovate, to bring in new clients, to increase sales, to, in short, make more money and do things better for the company. Now imagine that in that company those people who were trying new things, measuring their successes and failures, and achieving modest gains were punished and called out for not doing enough. All while those who did nothing, who literally sat at their desks, didn’t measure any progress, and continued wasting money as they did before, experienced no repercussions.  

How quickly do you think that company would achieve its goals? Not very quickly I would venture. And yet, that is exactly what we are doing with businesses and their climate commitments. Companies that reduce emissions and go beyond those reductions and use offsets are criticized for not doing enough, or even sued, while their peers who are not doing anything, who continue emitting as they always have, not even measuring their progress, get praised (or at least are not bothered). This is no way to make progress.  

To get a sense of how dysfunctional the offsets debate has become, all one has to do is read recent criticisms of carbon markets in Bloomberg, the Guardian, the New Yorker, or even Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. The criticisms have been flying fast and furious. It has been a tough year for voluntary carbon markets (VCM). There have been accusations that offset projects aren’t real or as good as they claim, criticisms that offsets are just greenwashing, and even lawsuits – the litany is long.  

The effects of this barrage of negativity have been chilling; companies who a few years ago were trying to reduce their emissions have now hit the pause button. Data on activity in the carbon markets indicate that demand has decreased markedly. The thought likely crossing companies’ minds is, “Why bother doing anything if I am likely to be crucified in the press or even sued for my trouble?” It is incredibly discouraging for companies to be leaders in climate action if the leaders get pummeled and the laggards skate on by. And it is certainly heartbreaking to watch.   

Now compare this to recent research on how companies that participate in the VCM actually behave. For instance, earlier this month, Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace launched their report,  All in on Climate: The Role of Carbon Credits in Corporate Climate Strategies. Overall, they found that companies buying carbon credits are actually doing more to reduce their own emissions than those who aren’t.  

Using available data from thousands of companies, they found that, far from being greenwashing or a distraction, participation in the VCM is a leading indicator of climate action. In other words, companies that participate in the VCM are far more likely to be reducing emissions than their peers. In fact, they spend three times more on emissions reductions than those who don’t participate in the VCM. Not only that, but they are far more likely (3.4 times more likely) to have science-based climate targets, and they are more transparent about their emissions than their peers. This report, and others like it, injects a dose of data and realism into a very fraught space. 

In short, companies involved in offsets and the VCM aren’t the worst actors on climate; they are the best of an admittedly slow bunch. But even if it is a bad bunch, as some might argue, how is that bunch going to get better at reducing their emissions if we keep executing the leaders while the laggards bask in their inaction? Let’s not smother what little progress there is.  

Far from being sued, corporate leaders need to be supported. They need the creative space to take risks, invest in carbon projects, and develop emissions reductions strategies. They need the VCM. We should be pushing them to do more, not beating them into submission such that they ultimately do less. Indeed, we should be shifting our criticism to the laggards instead. Participants in the VCM are at least trying to do something about climate change and, based on Ecosystem Marketplace’s research, many are even succeeding.  

All of this is not to say that offsets and the VCM shouldn’t be criticized. Not at all. We should do better. We NEED TO DO BETTER. In fact, an array of VCM “integrity initiatives” are working hard to come up with ways to do just that. But let’s not cripple or even dismantle this system! It may be, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “the worst of all possible systems,” but it is better than all the others. I mean, sure, if only we could stop emitting and if only we had functional governments that came up with sensible legislation to address climate change, then maybe all would be great and we could do without offsets or the VCM. But come on, is any of that happening? Who are we kidding? Can we really afford to do without the VCM?  

As we approach the critical deadlines of 2030 and 2050, should we really chide corporate leaders for trying to do something when so many of their peers do less than nothing? Is this a good strategy for progress? Can we really afford to shame those who are doing best at addressing this problem? Lord knows that there is already precious little progress in the battle against climate change. Let’s not smother what little there is. There is too much baby in that bath water.  

New EM Insights Briefing: State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets 2023

In the lead-up to COP28, Ecosystem Marketplace is excited to publish its flagship report covering the latest prices, trends, and insights related to international voluntary carbon markets.

During this webinar on Tuesday, November 28 @ 10 am ET / 1500 GMT+1, EM’s Managing Director, Stephen Donofrio, will present the key findings from its new report, and guest speakers will share their reflections on the analysis, followed by Q&A.

Guest speakers:

Register here:

Support for Ecosystem Marketplace’s State of the Voluntary Carbon Markets work is provided by:

New carbon credit integrity guidelines could boost buyer confidence in agriculture

1 November 2023 | (First published on EDF’s Blog: Climate 411 on 26 October 2023) Voluntary carbon markets are a source of much-needed finance to help the agriculture sector realize its potential for climate mitigation. Still, carbon credit buyers face challenges in differentiating carbon credits that represent real and verifiable climate impact, based on the latest science and best practices in a crowded marketplace. It takes due diligence to get this right, and changes are underway to make the process easier.  

New guidance on high-integrity carbon credits from an independent governance body has important implications for all credit categories, including those generated by the agricultural sector.  

The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market, also known as the ICVCM, recently launched its Core Carbon Principles, known as CCPs, a set of definitive global threshold standards for carbon credit quality. Soon, the ICVCM will begin an assessment process to determine whether carbon-crediting programs meet the CCP criteria, and whether certain carbon credit categories can be fast-tracked for CCP-approval or need to be more deeply evaluated to determine their eligibility.   

The ICVCM will issue CCP-approval labels for carbon credits, a demarcation intended to build trust in the voluntary carbon market and unlock investment by making it easier for buyers to recognize and put a price on high-integrity carbon credits. 

While CCP-approval decisions have not yet been made for agriculture credit types, the recently released guidance provides insight into key considerations for making those determinations.

Here’s what their criteria may look like in practice for the agriculture sector.

1. Carbon credits for agroforestry, agricultural soil carbon sequestration, and grassland and rangeland management mitigation activities may be eligible for the CCP-approved label but with elevated safeguards to mitigate the risk of releasing stored emissions. 

The past several years have seen a boom in credit issuance and purchasing for activities that take greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and store them, including enhanced soil carbon sequestration on agricultural lands. However, buyers should bear in mind that the ICVCM determined that agroforestry, soil carbon sequestration on croplands and grassland/rangeland management — along with strategies to store and protect other natural carbon reservoirs — have a substantial risk of reversal or non-permanence of climate benefits. This could be due to a change in land use or management or uncontrollable climate events such as droughts, floods, warming temperatures and fires.

The ICVCM guidance requires project developers to monitor, report and compensate for reversals for a minimum of 40 years to account for such reversals. This would not play out at the individual farm level, but rather by maintaining and managing an aggregate project-level buffer pool of robust backfill carbon credits, which would be held on reserve as an insurance mechanism against the loss of stored carbon. Per the CCP guidance, buffer pools would need to meet credit composition, transparency and other management requirements.  

Such safeguards against reversals could potentially open the door to the CCP-approval label if other quantification and verification issues are also addressed, giving buyers more confidence in these credit categories. Some crediting programs already follow these requirements, while others will need to make improvements for their credits to qualify for the label.

2. Categories of carbon credits that prevent or permanently reduce methane emissions from livestock operations are likely to be eligible, with a chance of being fast-tracked for CCP-approval.  

Buyers should be aware that there is an urgent need to mobilize capital to fund practices and technologies that avoid livestock methane emissions. Livestock operations are a major contributor to global methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas that has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after its release. 

Another independent assessment body for carbon crediting methodologies — the Carbon Credit Quality Initiative, a collaborative initiative between EDF, World Wildlife Fund and Öko-Institut  — already found that there is a strong need for carbon market revenues to make projects such as industrial-scaled and household-scaled biodigesters fed with livestock manure financially viable for farmers. 

Given the clear economic need and permanence of these avoided emissions, these credit categories may be eligible for a fast-track to the CCP-approval label.  

There are critical opportunities within the agriculture sector to avoid and remove climate-warming emissions and quality assurance guardrails are essential to creating confidence in a carbon market that works for farmers, credit buyers and all entities in between. By purchasing high-integrity agricultural carbon credits that align with ICVCM’s Core Carbon Principles, credit buyers have the opportunity to help the agriculture sector fulfill its potential as a key climate solution.  

California Aiming to Improve the VCM

24 October 2023 | A primary point of contention within the voluntary carbon market (VCM) centers on its transparency, or the lack thereof. Greenwashing and transparency issues permeate multiple facets of the VCM, spanning the disclosure of base-line calculation methodologies used, the credibility of offset projects, the availability of project performance data, transaction visibility, pricing, and numerous others.

This article first appeared in the Gordian Knot Strategies “Sliced Newsletter

Part of the transparency problem is that companies who voluntarily purchase carbon credits have previously not been required to disclose their purchases.

As of this month, California has initiated measures aimed at addressing that exact detail with the goals of enhancing transparency and combatting greenwashing.

On October 7, California Governor Gavin Newsom approved Assembly Bill (AB) Number 1305. The bill – the Voluntary Carbon Market Disclosures Business Regulation Act (VCMDA) – mandates VCM disclosures. It was written by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel and co-written by State Senators Lena Gonzalez and Monique Limón.

The new law impacts entities inside the state of California that fall into the following categories:

  • Entities marketing or selling carbon offsets (Section 44475)
  • Entities buying or using carbon offsets and making net-zero or emission reduction claims (Section 44475.1)
  • Entities making net-zero or emission reduction claims (Section 44475.2)

All entities must now provide critical information on their websites, such as details about offset projects (e.g., locations, timelines, protocols, etc.), credit calculation methods, and data for independent verification of emission reduction estimates. The full list of information that must be listed on the entity’s website can be found in Section 44475 here.

It is important to note that these disclosure requirements do not affect entities that:

  • Are not based in or do not operate within California
  • Do not purchase or use carbon offsets within the state
  • Do not make net-zero or emission reduction claims within the state

For context on the scale of activity within the state, the Berkley Carbon Trading Project, as of May 2023, lists 167 carbon offset generating projects in California across the voluntary registries American Carbon Registry (ACR), Climate Action Reserve (CAR), and Verra (VCS).

For anyone who has tried to explore a carbon registry in search of details about credit purchasers and their associated transactions, they often encounter limited information. ACR, for example, which lists approximately 15 Californian project developers and 40 Californian projects (at various stages of development), does keep tabs on the retirement of offsets. However, it does not require offset entities to reveal their identities. As a result, it’s not unusual to come across entities listed under generic identifiers like “Company 974” or “Company 786.”

So, the 15 Californian project developers will now be obligated to provide the essential details on their websites specified by AB 1305. And should an entity like “Company 974” operate within California or purchase credits from a Californian project and assert a reduction in their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as a result, it is also required to publicly disclose project-related information.

The law, which goes into effect January 1, 2024, carries a hefty violation fee.

Violators can be charged a penalty of up to $2,500 per day for each day of non-compliance or inaccurate information on their website, not exceeding a total of $500,000. This penalty can be enforced through legal action by the Attorney General or local authorities in California. Disclosures must be updated on the entity’s website at least once a year.

It’s worth mentioning that AB 1305 is in addition to other significant California bills recently signed into law by Governor Newsom. Just this month, he stamped his name on Senate Bill-253 and Senate Bill-261.

California’s Senate Bill (SB)-253 mandates regulators to establish disclosure rules by 2025 for companies with annual revenues exceeding $1 billion, impacting approximately 5,300 corporations, including major players like Apple, Chevron, and Wells Fargo. Starting in 2026, these companies will need to publicly disclose their operational and electricity-related carbon emissions. By 2027, they must also report “scope 3” emissions, including those from their supply chains and customers.

SB-261, will extend these obligations to businesses with over $500 million in yearly revenue, starting in 2026.

California is genuinely stepping up its role. Collectively, these measures hold the potential to substantially enhance aspects of transparency across the VCM. Given California’s frequent position as a trailblazer in advocating policy and regulatory reforms, it’s probable that its initiatives will influence and extend to other states, regions, and countries.

Perhaps Governor Newsom heard our recent call for a global climate finance hero?

Shades of REDD+
Reforming the International Financial Systems to Value High-Integrity Forests

19 October 2023 | Next week, the Republic of the Congo will host the Three Basins Summit of the Amazon – Congo – Borneo – Mekong – Southeast Asia tropical forest basins. These three basins account for 80 percent of the world’s tropical forests, which house two-thirds of terrestrial biodiversity and play an essential role in regulating the global carbon balance. Rarely has there been an event where forests play a more central role than the forthcoming meeting in Brazzaville. The Summit provides a unique opportunity to make the case for a reform of the rules of global public finance to value tropical forests as global climate and biodiversity assets.

The international financial system fails to recognize the value of tropical forest systems as global assets that are essential for a safe and healthy environment for all people.  Countries located in the three basins are developing or emerging economies that face the challenge of combining conservation with development goals. These countries often depend on external finance – private and public – to invest in the institutions, capacities, policies, and infrastructure that are essential components of sustainable development. Such finance often demands investments in activities that promise stable and fast returns. As a result, the international financial system continues to favor short-term exploitation of land and resources over conservation and sustainable use to the detriment of our climate and ecosystems.

A reform that effectively supports vulnerable countries is overdue, and another crisis is looming.

The call for a reform of the multilateral financial system is spearheaded by Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados. In September 2022, Mottley issued a passionate warning that vulnerable developing countries were unable to meet the triple crisis of climate change, debt, and increased costs of living. Mottley left no doubt that the international financial system fails small island states that need greater liquidity to react quickly to climate-induced hurricanes and other catastrophic weather events. Multilateral finance organizations do not offer developing countries the tools to effectively respond to crises and invest in sustainable development and human, economic, and climate resilience. Small island states and other developing countries also need increased long-term finance to build climate-resilient economies. Mottley’s call for action resulted in the Bridgetown Initiative. This Initiative advocates for changes to the international finance system with the goal of increasing liquidity and access to resources for countries that suffer from an acceleration in the number and increase of severity of climate-induced disasters.

There is another urgent challenge for which the multilateral finance system needs to find an answer before it is too late. The world can only achieve climate and biodiversity goals if tropical forests are conserved. Protecting and maintaining them cannot be done by forest countries alone; instead, it is a global task that needs to be honored and supported through systems that recognize and value the essential ecosystem services that these forests deliver.

The international community is liable to help countries that face frequent destruction through catastrophic weather events. However, it is also liable to allow countries to pursue sustainable development without clearing their forests.

Global finance needs to be reformed and ‘grey’ finance needs to be ‘greened.’

It will be difficult to impossible to protect tropical forests if mainstream development finance is not reformed to account for climate action and nature conservation. The current multilateral finance architecture fails to value countries’ natural assets as global public goods. In the context of the UN climate and biodiversity regimes and the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities,” the international financial system must create development incentives linked to the conservation – not the consumption – of forests.

This can be done by adopting the calls by the Bridgetown Initiative with amendments to reflect the needs of countries that administer tropical forests. The following proposed amendments would benefit countries in all three tropical forest basins.

First, since the protection of tropical forests involves safeguarding essential global ecosystem services that all people depend on, multilateral development finance organizations should agree to assign a monetary value to these forests that factors in the roles forests play in stabilizing the global climate, regulating the water cycle, and providing biodiversity resources—among other services. Considering forests to be national (and, in fact, international) assets would drive mainstream financial organizations to invest in long-term conservation. Valuing the roles of forests in the long term could replace the short-term perspective of the current financial system that emphasizes exploitation with a system that incentivizes managing forests as essential government assets.

Efforts to value the forests of the Congo Basin are already underway and can provide important input to the proposed reform of public debt management systems.  Proposed debt reforms call for the international financial system to account for the value of standing forests when establishing the debt limits of countries, their eligibility for finance, and the conditions under which they can access finance.

Second, public sector financing for forest countries — in particular those of the Congo Basin, which are often overlooked when it comes to allocating climate finance — needs to be scaled. This can be achieved by establishing a new funding window under the Resilience and Sustainability Trust administered by the International Monetary Fund. This funding window would provide vulnerable forest countries access to immediate and long-term financing in the face of the climate crisis. The funding window would make large-scale funds available for budget support and policy reform for forest countries to implement forest-friendly development strategies. Such a funding window could offer results-based payments in the form of grants to poorer countries that would be disbursed against the achievements of policy goals in addition to concessional loans with longer-term maturity and grace periods that enable countries to make investments into sustainable infrastructure and land use.

Action is particularly urgent in the Congo Basin

Multilateral finance organizations and other global financial institutions should value all high-integrity tropical forests. However, proper consideration of forests is particularly urgent in the Congo Basin, an expanse of 180 million hectares of forests that includes the world’s largest area of high-integrity forests. Although relatively undisturbed in historical terms compared to other tropical forests, the Congo Basin forests face severe risks. Deforestation in the region is increasing. In 2021, a total of 636,000 hectares were deforested across the six Congo Basin countries, amounting to nearly 10 percent of global deforestation.[1] This represents a 4.9 percent yearly increase in deforestation relative to the average annual deforestation in the Congo Basin in 2018-20 (606,000 ha/year).

Today, the climate and forest finance received by the countries of the region Congo is neither commensurate to the finance needs of the region nor reflective of the ecosystem and climate services that the region provides. Despite hosting the second largest forest area worldwide, the finance for forest and environmental protection in the Congo Basin is just about 4 percent (USD 40 million between 2017 and 2021) of the amount received by the Amazon Basin and Southeast Asia (around USD 1 billion each) in the same period.

Figure 3 – Finance targeting two forestry-related sectors (Forestry and general environmental protection sectors) received by three high-forest regions between 2017 and 2021. Source: OECD Creditor Reporting System (CRS) database.

In sum, the international financial system must be reformed to increase liquidity for developing countries by reducing debt burdens, resourcing climate-resilient economies, providing budget support, and recognizing the economic value of ecosystem conservation. The goals of such reforms are to address shortcomings of the international financial system, which currently make it impossible for developing countries to respond to global climate, biodiversity, and economic challenges, and to ensure sustainable development and green growth. Policymakers convening in Brazzaville should take a deep breath and seriously consider the financial needs of the Congo Basin and other forest countries and design a new fiscal framework that must establish continued incentives to protect those forests that are essential for all of us.

Hero image photo credit: Valdhy Mbemba on Unsplash

[1] Forest Declaration Assessment Partners. (2022).

Carbon markets: Time to listen to Indigenous Peoples and local communities

16 October 2023 | The Africa Climate Summit held in early September has largely been deemed a success, but it was not immune to challenges. The lead up to the summit was dogged by criticism that it had been coopted by Northern based philanthropies, NGOs and consultancies. This was underscored in a letter signed by over 400 Africa-based civil society groups.

As the other regional summits have proceeded, the question of whose voices are included is becoming a topic of interest and concern. While the crucial roles of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are increasingly recognized in addressing climate change and conserving biodiversity, they often remain peripheral to land management discussions amid accelerated global climate action.

It is the same in the case of carbon markets, where their role is no less significant, yet their voice and participation remain marginal. With the recent developments, challenges and volatility in these markets, we need to hear from the real partners on the ground.

This tumultuous year for carbon markets is due in part to transition pains triggered by progress under the Paris Agreement on Article 6, and to media articles that have questioned the value of voluntary market carbon credits. A necessary re-calibration is underway, with ‘high integrity’ becoming the new benchmark.

Voluntary markets and national commitments collide

Voluntary carbon markets, the spectrum of standards-setting bodies and associated private sector actors are trying to carve out a clear role and stake in the rapidly emerging carbon landscape.

Article 6 of the Paris Agreement permits countries to collaborate voluntarily in meeting their emission reduction goals outlined in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). As countries have independent strategies for realizing their NDCs, this could involve focusing on other sectors or otherwise result in a surplus of land-use sector carbon credits available for trading in domestic or international carbon markets. The sale and export of Verified Carbon Units by project developers understandably raises concerns around the implications of a country falling short of what are meant to be ever more rigorous NDC commitments.

In the Asia-Pacific region, some countries have paused voluntary carbon market project development and market engagement until they can fully assess and confidently engage, while developing a clear, strategic balance between their NDCs, Article 6 bilateral agreements and the voluntary carbon market. Throughout this transition, Indigenous Peoples and local communities are concerned about how, and under which modality, their interests are best served.

Voluntary carbon markets in transition towards integrity

In early 2023, The Guardian and Die Zeit newspapers claimed that over 90 percent of rainforest carbon credits issued by the world’s top certifier Verra had no value as they did not represent real carbon reductions. Verra and other industry experts have attempted to discredit the methodology used in the investigation. Despite rebuttals, the media coverage has resulted in anxiety in the markets, triggering some warranted self-reflection.

These media reports were among the factors that led to a decrease in the issuance and trading of nature-based carbon credits in 2023. In the previous two years, voluntary carbon markets reached record levels of trading. Although demand and transactions have slowly rebounded, trust and credibility in the voluntary carbon markets remain compromised.

Corporations still lack clear guidance on determining the characteristics and credibility of carbon credits, in comparison to the net zero approaches advanced by the Science-Based Targets Initiative. Until recent progress by the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market and the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative, there has been no similar alignment on what high-integrity approaches to carbon credits should be. These integrity initiatives conduct multi-stakeholder forums which include actively soliciting the voices of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

But more must be done to ensure that the voices of forest-based people are integral to the process. This may include creative approaches to engaging, communicating and interacting, as poor internet access and differences in cultural norms around decision-making processes and timelines may hinder meaningful, two-way collaboration.

Where Indigenous Peoples and local communities stand on carbon markets

Today, the voluntary carbon market, like many emerging markets, is fragile and volatile, yet optimistic. The trading of carbon as a commodity is uniquely complex, as the diversity of project types and complexity of social and ecological factors make one ton of carbon equivalent in one location, not fully interchangeable with a ton of carbon equivalent in another area.

Demand by corporates for offsets to drive their net zero targets is undiminished. However, their preferences are shifting from projects that avoid deforestation and associated carbon emissions to afforestation or reforestation projects with strong potential to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

Project developers and other stakeholders in voluntary carbon markets want to see the market survive, which at times may be at odds with the evolution of the Article 6 mechanism. But this should not detract from the important role of voluntary carbon markets as a means of developing tangible projects with targeted benefits to local stakeholders that will ultimately be nested within national accounting systems.

Indigenous Peoples and local communities express varying opinions and preferences when it comes to participating in carbon markets and engaging in carbon-related opportunities. While some are wary of commodifying nature, others see these markets as a lifeline to safeguard their lands, traditions and livelihoods. However, the most vocal discussions, particularly between carbon market supporters and critics, are often led by stakeholders from the Global North, sidelining the voices of the communities most directly affected.

An exception to this was an open letter published by Indigenous-led organizations in May 2023 in support of REDD+ (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation). The letter explained why voluntary carbon markets remain an important and appreciated revenue stream for some of the world’s poorest forest dependent communities. Given the low profits for producers of many commodities in tropical Asian countries, such as approximately USD 162 per hectare per year for maize in Nan, Thailand according to RECOFTC’s assessments, even small flows of additional revenue to local communities can be transformative, offering alternatives to expand agricultural production.

Amplifying voices of Indigenous Peoples and local communities

Pendi is the Head of the Tambagguruyung community forestry group. In the photo, he sun-dries with care the coffee beans harvested from the group's plantation.
Pendi is the Head of the Tambagguruyung community forestry group. In the photo, he sun-dries with care the coffee beans harvested from the group’s plantation.

As Pendi, a man who belongs to a community forestry group in Ciwidey, Indonesia told us: “Our forest is our life…For decades, we have worked so hard to keep them alive as they are our main livelihoods.”

“[Social forestry programs] have opened the way to partnerships with the private sector on forestry through which we have agreements to keep our forests safe and share benefits fairly,” he said. “By working together, building trust and creating a transparent financial process between all stakeholders, we can keep the sustainability of our forests.”

RECOFTC works hard to amplify the voices and interests of Indigenous Peoples and local communities. As a founding member of the Peoples Forests Partnership which backed the open letter, we continue to listen to communities and to discuss the role of carbon and forests as an important source of livelihood and benefits for them.

We do this through our involvement in networks and partnerships, through research and by ensuring that representatives of Indigenous Peoples and local communities can learn from and express their views at key events such as Asia Pacific Climate Week and conferences of parties to the UNFCCC.

RECOFTC is convinced that while voluntary carbon markets are imperfect, they can be an important tool in combatting climate change while also delivering transformative benefits to local communities. But this will require thoughtful design and appropriate social and environmental safeguards.

Indigenous Peoples and local communities can be their own strongest advocates. Project-level REDD+ through the voluntary carbon market can provide opportunities for them to exercise autonomy, build capacities and co-design projects. However, this is dependent on industry ‘integrity’, with respect not only to carbon accounting methodologies but also to robust social standards in the private sector and at different scales of governance. It requires ensuring free, prior and informed consent, based on a well-developed understanding of the full opportunities and risks of such projects while respecting and upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities.

As we navigate towards sustainable forest landscapes and robust carbon markets, the deep-rooted wisdom, lived experiences and essential priorities of Indigenous Peoples and local communities are more than beneficial—they’re indispensable.

Banner Photo: RECOFTC archive photo

New Ecosystem Marketplace Price Transparency for UK Voluntary Carbon Market

2023 October 11 | Ecosystem Marketplace has today for the first time released voluntary carbon market prices for the United Kingdom’s domestic carbon units of Woodland Carbon Code and Peatland Code projects covering transactions in 2021, 2022, and in the partial year 2023.

The average price of woodland units has increased from £15 in 2021 to £25 in the first half of 2023. Peatland units were £24 in 2022.

Ecosystem Marketplace collated transaction data from project developers and resellers through our Global Carbon Markets Hub. In total, EM received over 680 recent (2021-2023) transactions, representing over 0.5 Million carbon credits, from project developers and retail aggregators.

We are grateful to market participants who have reported their sales to date and encourage all players to keep reporting sales prices through the Ecosystem Marketplace Global Carbon Markets Hub – interested market participants should contact EM directly to enroll ([email protected]) as well as Woodland Carbon Code: [email protected] and Peatland Code: [email protected].

We will publish updates to this data in 2024 and hope to be able to show any differences in price by type of project, location, co-benefits, type of unit, or first vs onward sales.

Ecosystem Marketplace’s UK Carbon Price Index

Woodland Carbon Code Unit Prices – Volume and Value

   2021 2022   2023 ** Part Year
 Volume  233,022  212,275  60,355
 Spread Price (Difference between highest and lowest reported price)  £27.76  £33.20  £37.50
 Volume Weighted Average Price per PIU – Nominal Terms (ie reported each year)  £14.93  £19.13  £25.36
 Volume Weighted Average Price per PIU – Real Terms (ie adjusted by inflation to 2022 prices)  £15.74  £19.13  £24.15

** Over 99% of units transacted were Pending Issuance Units. Spread Price is max minus min price. Volume Weighted Average is the ratio of the value of credits traded to the total volume traded during a given timeframe ([price x volume summed over all transactions] / total volume). Assumed 5% inflation from 2022 to 2023 based on Bank of England Base Rate in June 2023.

Peatland Code Unit Prices – Volume and Value

   2021 2022   2023 ** Part Year
 Volume  —  11,416  —
 Spread Price (Difference between highest and lowest reported price)  —  £25.00  —
 Volume Weighted Average Price per PIU – Nominal Terms (ie reported each year)  —  £23.95
 Volume Weighted Average Price per PIU – Real Terms (ie adjusted by inflation to 2022 prices)  —  £23.95  —

 ** 100% of Peatland Units transacted were Pending Issuance Units. Spread Price is max minus min price. Volume Weighted Average is the ratio of the value of credits traded to the total volume traded during a given timeframe ([price x volume summed over all transactions] / total volume). Insufficient data reported in 2021 and 2023 to date.

See also:

This work was funded by the ‘Nature-based Solutions for Climate Change at Landscape Scale’ programme, sponsored by Defra and DESNZ.

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New research: Carbon credits are associated with businesses decarbonizing faster

12:01 Eastern Time, 10 October, 2023 | New research published today suggests that companies that participate in voluntary carbon markets (VCM) are leading across a range of measures of robust climate action, accountability, and ambition—across the board, outperforming companies that do not buy carbon credits.

The new study by Forest TrendsEcosystem Marketplace indicates that not only are carbon credits purchases funding rapid climate action, but are also associated with companies that are already addressing climate change in their direct operations and throughout their value chains.

Findings include:

  • Companies engaging in the voluntary carbon market are reducing their own emissions more
    quickly than their peers.

    • They are 1.8X more likely to be decarbonizing year-over-year;
    • 1.3X more likely to have supplier engagement strategies, an indicator that companies buying carbon credits are also actively working with suppliers, employees, and customers to address climate impacts; and
    • The median voluntary credit buyer is investing 3X more in emission reduction efforts within their value chain. They do so by investing in emissions reduction activities for their business and operations, including renewable energy consumption and the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
  • Voluntary carbon buyers are more likely than non-buyers to have targets to address climate change, and their targets are more ambitious.
    • They are 3.4X more likely to have an approved science based climate target;
    • 1.2X more likely to have board oversight of their climate transition plans; and
    • 3X more likely to include Scope 3 Emissions in their climate target – notable given that Scope 3 emissions constitute the majority (91%) of carbon buyers’ emissions, and also are the hardest for companies to exert control over, as these emissions are generated by the company’s suppliers upstream, customers downstream, and other companies and organizations in the value chain.
  • The market has seen an uptick in demand for pricier, higher quality carbon credits. This suggests companies are willing to pay more to ensure supply-side integrity. The voluntary carbon market was valued at US$2 billion in 2021 and industry experts expect it to grow at least five-fold to between US$10-60 billion by 2030.

The report analyzes voluntary carbon markets transactions and corporate climate disclosures to the CDP (formerly, Carbon Disclosure Project)) by 7,415 organizations, on behalf of 590 institutional investor signatories with a combined US$110 trillion in assets, and 200+ major purchasers with over US$5.5 trillion in procurement spend.

Carbon credits represent a very small share of overall action: the analysis shows that the credits companies are buying represent on average just over 2% of their total emissions.

Stephen Donofrio, Managing Director, Forest Trends’ Ecosystem Marketplace says, “Our analysis indicates that corporate voluntary buyers are using science to backstop their investments into a suite of climate solutions, including project-based carbon credits. As companies are being called on accelerate their efforts to do the hard, but necessary, work of addressing GHG emissions in their value chains and decarbonizing their operations, over the past decade our market analyses have shown remarkably consistent results: that companies investing in voluntary carbon markets are outperforming their peers across a range of key indicators.”

María Mendiluce, CEO, We Mean Business Coalition, says: “This research clearly shows that companies which are investing in carbon markets – far from being laggards or greenwashers – are using carbon credits as part of ambitious, holistic decarbonisation strategies. Participation in high integrity carbon markets is a credible action against climate change and nature depletion.”

Dr. M. Sanjayan, CEO, Conservation International, says, “We are in a race against time, and the global scientific consensus is clear: we must invest in nature to combat climate change. Each and every one of us, from individuals to governments and the corporate sector, must play a role. Carbon credits offer an immediate way for businesses to reduce global emissions right now, and today’s report reaffirms what we’ve long known: carbon credit buyers tend to be leaders in taking climate action. Those criticizing them or lagging on the sidelines should take note.”

Mark Kenber, CEO, Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative, says, “Ecosystem Marketplace’s independent analysis of companies engaging with voluntary carbon markets shows that most buyers are using carbon credits judiciously and as part of a transparent, ambitious, and integrated carbon strategy. This will only accelerate progress towards global climate goals. Sadly, corporate leaders have become reluctant to ‘talk their walk’ about carbon market strategies for fear of being type-cast as green-washers but I hope this report will help dispel mistrust and encourage more CEOs to invest and disclose more about their carbon credit investments.”

Dee Lawrence, Founder and Director, High Tide Foundation says, “With time running short to cool the planet, we need all the effective climate solutions we can finance. The data is clear, corporate partners who are decarbonizing the fastest are also supporting mitigation activities. It’s time we give credit to these leaders that are embracing holistic climate solutions with real funding.”

Max Scher, VP of Sustainability Research and Innovation, Salesforce, says, “As we face the devastating impacts of climate change, it’s imperative that companies do more, not less. As this new research shows, companies that are engaging in voluntary carbon markets are at the forefront of climate action. Well-utilized carbon credits can play a vital role in mitigating the impacts of climate change while supporting vulnerable communities and ecosystems.”

Tracy Johns, Carbon Removal Specialist, Meta says, “The IPCC makes it clear that there is an urgent need to do more to address global emissions. As we prioritize decarbonization to reach net zero across our value chain in 2030, supporting the growth of a healthy carbon market allows us to go even further by supporting underfunded priorities such as ecosystem restoration and novel engineered carbon removal. Carbon credits enable companies to accelerate global action today and direct carbon finance to communities most at risk from climate change. It is reassuring to see others following this roadmap by using carbon credits to complement the important internal efforts they already have underway.”

– ENDS –

3 Things We Heard at New York Climate Week

Please note this article was originally published by Forest Trends

Sep 29, 2023 | Last week, members of our team gathered in New York City for New York Climate Week 2023. Actors across the climate action space, from companies and NGOs to indigenous organizations and governments, gathered at the Nature Positive Hub, hosted by Nature4Climate. The focus of the Nature Positive Hub was to align nature and nature-based solutions with global climate goals and to help actors make the leap from ambition to implementation. Our team returned with three clear messages:

1. Partnerships need to focus on shared responsibility, rather than “support” and must be built on trust before finance reaches the ground.

What rang loud and clear from indigenous and local panelists throughout Nature Positive Hub events is that it is time for market actors to step up. At COP26 Glasgow in 2021, $1.7 billion was pledged to indigenous and local communities, yet a year later only 7% of these funds actually reached communities. This New York Climate week marks almost three years since these pledges, and communities are still searching for promised finance on the ground.

These communities are under immense pressure and cannot wait for investors and academics in the Global North to agree on the perfect way forward to keep providing the vital service of forest protection (i.e., the perfect is becoming the enemy of the good). Many agreed during a session hosted by Wildlife Conservation Society that at the end of the day, all actors need to “pony up” and start transacting carbon credits. Josh Tosteson, President of Everland, framed the market as a mechanism both “in service and in responsibility to” indigenous forest stewards.

Roselyn Fosuah Adjei, Director of Climate Change for Ghana’s Forestry Commission and one of Josh’s co-panelists, emphasized the need for a shift from a “support” to shared responsibility mindset in the market, including direct, up-front financing to communities on the front lines of climate change. “We need to see the demand [for carbon credits] actually becoming tangible,” she said. Looking beyond a single, up-front investment is what can enable communities to build more resilient governance and economic initiatives in the long-term.

Panelists of the Nature Positive Hub session, “Achieving scale: How can the VCM support countries to achieve ambitious climate action through REDD+ and meet sustainable development goals,” hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Society. From left to right: Beto Borges, Director of Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative; Jorge M. Rodriguez Zuñiga, Executive Director of the National Forestry Finance Fund (Fondo Nacional de Financiamiento Forestal, FONAFIFO), San José, Costa Rica; Daniel Ortega-Pacheco, Co-Chair of the ICVCM; Roselyn Fosuah Adjei, Director of Climate Change for Ghana’s Forestry Commission

Relationships built on trust, especially between indigenous and local communities and governments and/or companies, are particularly important to sustaining integrity and shared responsibility in the market. To this end, during Climate Week, Forest Trends, Everland, and Wildlife Works launched the Equitable Earth Coalition, which, in close partnership with indigenous peoples, local communities, and Global South countries, “is committed to developing a new voluntary carbon market standard and platform to help end deforestation and biodiversity loss by driving finance directly to communities.”

2. Carbon market actors need to counter negative press and greenhushing by sharing their project success stories and amplifying the data that show carbon credits are essential to climate action and ambition.

Market actors throughout Climate Week reported feeling unmoored by a string of recent news stories calling into question voluntary carbon markets effectiveness and the motives of those who engage in the market. Yet as emphasized by Beto Borges, Director of our Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative earlier this year, condemning all carbon markets due to confused data analysis or a few bad actors puts a critical source of funding for climate action at risk, especially for indigenous and local communities who need direct finance to continue protecting and managing their forests.

Moreover, one leading project developer told us that in the absence of a “safe space” to invest in carbon offset projects, investors, like companies, will either keep quiet about their emissions reductions strategies (“greenhushing”) or stop participating in carbon markets altogether. This is a blow to market transparency, climate ambition, and achieving global emissions reductions goals. Like investments in any other economic market, there will always be inherent risk in investing in carbon credit projects, and it remains important that companies feel encouraged to take this risk without being attacked by media, even if the outcome is not perfect the first time around.

One proposed way to start reclaiming the narrative is for the carbon market space to share more success stories from carbon offset projects on the ground. Showing people how their investments in or public support of high-integrity projects affect the lives of people on the front lines of climate change and forest protection could go a long way in making the human connection to carbon markets more obvious for less technical audiences. Just as importantly, we need more than “anecdata” on how companies are really using carbon credits as part of their climate strategies. Ecosystem Marketplace is releasing some major new analysis on this next month (Register for their webinar here).

3. Not going “beyond carbon” is a missed opportunity.

Another message repeated throughout Climate Week, especially from indigenous and local community representatives, is that market actors need to do a better job capturing the whole picture when we think about valuing carbon credits and the activities associated with generating them. Gustavo Sánchez, President of Red MOCAF in Mexico defined looking beyond carbon as valuing people, traditional knowledge, community wellbeing, and biodiversity. Communities are much more than just “beneficiaries” of a carbon project, they’re essential partners. Yet, traditional knowledge is generally not acknowledged or paid for like western concepts of intellectual property rights.

Broadening carbon project focus to include specific community concerns is not just about equity; it helps address the root causes of deforestation and land degradation, such as lack of livelihood opportunities in forest communities and not having the resources to resist illegal incursions on protected land.

Panelists of the Nature Positive Hub session, “Carbon Finance for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities,” hosted by University of California Center for Climate Justice, Forest Trends, Peoples Forests Partnership, AMPB, and Network of Indigenous and Local Populations for the Sustainable Management of Forest Ecosystems in Central Africa (REPALEAC). From left to right: Aissatou Oumarou, Indigenous Leader of REPALEAC; Francisca Arara, Secretary for Indigenous Peoples of the State of Acre, Brazil; Gustavo Sánchez, Founding Member, Peoples Forest Partnership; Beto Borges, Director of Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative; Joseph Mwakima, Community Engagement Manager, Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, Kenya; José Gualinga, Sarayaku Peoples representative; Tracey Osborne, Director, UC Center for Climate Justice

Francisca Arara, Secretary for Indigenous Peoples, State of Acre, Brazil and one of Gustavo’s co-panelists added that “Money can’t change everything, but it is important to complement existing activities in our territories, to improve food security, technology, communication, youth inclusion, and capacity building. [Direct, up-front financing] helps enable us to live how we want to live and strengthen our ways of life.” Engaging communities as equal partners from day one to co-create projects is a good place for any company, project developer, government, or NGO to start.

Companies are also increasingly seeing the consequences of not looking beyond carbon. Carbon-related activities are usually considered “finance” and siloed from activities connected to “nature,” such as water, agriculture, and biodiversity conservation. While these institutional silos can make some big challenges feel more manageable, it limits our ability to employ systems thinking to solve environmental problems, which do not lie neatly within the boundaries we create for our own convenience. The launch of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures’ (TNFD) risk management and disclosure framework during Climate Week is a promising signal that companies, financial institutions, and others are increasingly recognizing the financial risk of not addressing nature loss and are developing ways to better integrate their climate and nature priorities. The TNFD hopes to help companies recognize their nature-related risks, then report these risks in a more standardized, accessible way.

All sectors depend on nature to some degree. Cross-silo thinking and tools to support its implementation in a business environment is what is so desperately needed to generate real, concrete action towards the 2030 targets we are quickly approaching. Focusing on just emissions reductions or species conservation or water access is not cutting it anymore. The world needs systems-level change. As part of the life on this planet and those responsible for climate change, it is our responsibility to work on collaborative solutions that shift how we do business and interact with nature and keep building an equitable future for generations to come. We look forward to building on the momentum we experienced at New York Climate Week as we prepare for COP29 Dubai in a few months-time.


New Carbon Market Standard for Community-Centered Forest Conservation
Press Release

19 September 2023, New York – As government and corporate leaders gather for New York Climate Week, founding members of the Peoples Forests Partnership have launched the Equitable Earth Coalition. In partnership with Indigenous Peoples, local communities and Global South countries, the Coalition is committed to developing a new voluntary carbon market standard and platform to help end deforestation and biodiversity loss by driving finance directly to communities.

Michael Jenkins, CEO of Forest Trends, said: “As a longtime champion of trustworthy and accessible carbon markets, we are excited about a process that centers Indigenous Peoples and local communities. We believe this fills a major gap in the carbon ecosystem. Forest Trends is glad to support the Equitable Earth approach, and we look forward to seeing it deliver on its goal of rapidly scaling direct climate finance to communities on the front lines of efforts to safeguard forests.”

The goal of the Equitable Earth Coalition is to provide that solution through a new voluntary carbon market (VCM) standard and platform that is:

  • Developed in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, with an aim of delivering transformative finance directly to communities to fund their own development ambitions.
  • Founded on transparency, robust science and rigorous due diligence, a standardised approach to measuring carbon, societal and biodiversity impacts, and best practices for IPLC ownership and inclusion.
  • Holistic by driving investment both to stop deforestation, and to restore and steward forest ecosystems.
  • Designed to nest into national forest carbon programs that contribute to global climate commitments.

The founding members of the Coalition include Forest Trends, Wildlife Works and Everland.

Beto Borges, Director of the Forest Trends Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative, will be Chair of the Equitable Earth Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities Advisory Group.

“The voluntary carbon market can help address forest loss at its root, by providing essential finance to Indigenous Peoples and local communities to make conservation a viable development path. But the market has not been designed to meet the needs of the communities on the ground, who hold the key to reducing emissions from deforestation,” Beto Borges said. “A fit-for-purpose solution is needed now. Forests are being destroyed and we have run out of time.”

Also joining the Equitable Earth Indigenous Peoples & Local Communities Advisory Group will be:

  • Francisca Arara, Extraordinary Secretary for Indigenous Peoples in the State of Acre, Brazil, and President of the Regional Committee for Brazil of the Governors Climate and Forests Task Force
  • Gustavo Sánchez Valle, President of the Mexican Network of Community Forest Organizations (Red MOCAF)
  • Mary Allegretti, Anthropologist, President of the Institute of Amazonian Studies
  • Julio Barbosa de Aquino, President, National Council of Extractivist Populations (CNS)

The Coalition is growing rapidly and currently undertaking stakeholder consultations with IPLC leaders; Global South governments; project developers; carbon market participants; scientific and policy experts; and others, with further announcements planned for later this year.

For further information, visit www.eq-earth.com

New EM Insights Briefing Report Launch: The Role of Carbon Credits in Corporate Climate Strategies

Download the report.

The webinar slides and recordings are available in the links below.

Webinar recording:

Webinar slides:

Information on the webinar:

When: Tuesday, October 10th at 10:00 AM Eastern Time (GMT-4:00)

About: This virtual Ecosystem Marketplace Insights Briefing launched EM’s new report, The Role of Carbon Credits in Corporate Climate Strategies. The report serves as the first major update to its landmark “Taking Stock” report series since 2016. It is designed to look specifically at the climate-related behavior of companies that are involved in the VCM versus those who are not. Speakers discussed the key findings from the report. It was be followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

Stephen Donofrio, Managing Director, Ecosystem Marketplace, Forest Trends
Jenny Ahlen, Managing Director, Net Zero, We Mean Business Coalition
Will Turner, PH.D., Senior VP, Natural Climate Solutions, Conservation International
Alexia Kelly, Managing Director, Carbon Policy and Markets Initiative, High Tide Foundation
Mark Kenber, Executive Director, Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative
Dee Lawrence, Founder & Director, High Tide Foundation




There are no high-quality REDD+ projects without indigenous and local communities

Carbon markets have historically taken as the primary indicator of project success the volume of carbon sequestered. But there is another barometer, often unevaluated but equally important: whether carbon finance strengthens the rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). Such human-centered metrics are generally referred to in the field as “co-benefits.” In fact, carbon markets’ success may depend on them.

IPLCs are the world’s best stewards of forests and biodiversity, and they should play a central role in nature-based carbon project development and implementation. Many defend their territories from land grabbing and illegal activities like logging, mining, and ranching at great personal risk. Bridging this gap between community well-being and emissions reductions is critical to enable resilient communities and reduce environmental impacts in the long term.

On the heels of Africa Climate Week, and as we approach New York Climate Week and COP28, we wanted to repeat the calls we are hearing from communities.

Carbon co-benefits must be redefined as “core.”

Ecosystem Marketplace recently published a story about the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project in Kenya. As Geoffrey Mwangi, the project’s Lead Scientist for Biodiversity and Social Monitoring, told us in an interview, social and environmental outcomes are intertwined. They cannot be separated. Even the term “co-benefits” is misleading. That project’s developers “recognize what [we] are calling ‘co-benefits’ as ‘core benefits,’” he explains.

Such a reframing can push a carbon project to focus more on taking pressure off communities on the front lines of forest protection. Communities suffering from livelihood insecurity and constant threat by illegal actors need support to protect their territories and develop sustainable, forest-based livelihoods. Without alternatives and equitable access to markets and other resources, communities may otherwise have no choice but to base their economies on natural resource extraction. Or they may not have the resources to expel illegal loggers, miners, and other intruders. The types of land management practices and projects that generate desirable co-benefits can help address some of these root drivers of deforestation and poor land use.

Projects that generate co-benefits enable communities “to spend more time on economic activities that are not reliant on natural resource extraction,” said Cara Braund, Conservation Office Manager at Wildlife Works, during a recent Ecosystem Marketplace webinar. Things like access to markets for forest products, such as cacao; adequate water infrastructure; or access to social benefits, like healthcare or education, can make a world of a difference to communities and help ensure long-term success of the projects they help steward.

In Kasigau, for example, Early Childhood Development Supervisor Catherine Simba explains why education is key to reducing deforestation in the long-term. “Before carbon,” she says, “my babies weren’t coming to school.” But with project money, she was able to implement a school feeding program and to subsidize secondary and university education – both of which greatly increased retention. With an education, these children can make a living without poaching or cutting down trees.

The best solutions for carbon markets are not always going to be the best solutions for communities.

Earlier this year, Ecosystem Marketplace led a conversation with partners from the Forest Stewardship Council, the American Forest Foundation, NCX, and Wildlife Works. They discussed a demand for high-quality carbon projects with co-benefits, and how these projects can both curb deforestation emissions and benefit communities. “When it comes to [carbon] projects,” says Zach Parisa, CEO of NCX, “it is tradeoffs all the way down.” In other words, it is important to acknowledge that community objectives often extend well beyond carbon project objectives. Likewise, increased carbon storage does not necessarily also generate enhanced biodiversity conservation or community well-being.

Take a tree replanting effort, for example. Evergreens are some of the most effective carbon absorbing trees (think species such as spruce and fir in the north, and mahogany and eucalyptus in tropical regions). Although large plantings of species like these might absorb the most carbon, they might also be disruptive to the community living on that land. Plantation-style reforestation can outcompete native species, degrade natural habitats, deplete a community’s water supply, and strip essential nutrients from the soil. It can also harm community food systems by removing diverse plants that are essential food sources. Agroforestry can be a more functional approach for communities and ecosystems. This method incorporates a biodiverse mix of native trees and shrubs into agricultural systems, which can increase food security and create market opportunities for food and artisan products.

Yet in the long term, we cannot meet global climate goals without simultaneously prioritizing emissions reductions projects and the long-term social and economic well-being of the communities implementing those projects.

Fitting measures to the community

Co-benefits will also take different forms for different communities, along with case-specific methodologies and quantification. Back in Kasigau, Kenya, the communities that Braund works with have elected committees that identify their priorities and how they will address them. For one community, access to water and education were most important. Through REDD+ funding, community members were able to renovate their local school. The renovation included rain gutters and better-quality roofing, which allowed rainwater to flow from the rooftop into the school interior. These changes improved the students’ learning environment and their access to water. When households are less focused on finding water, they have more time for economic activities that will generate income, and children have time to study in school. Better water access is especially important for women and girls.[1] They are the ones tasked with finding and carrying water back to their families – a time consuming and unsafe job. When water is already nearby, they can spend time working, studying, or socializing.

The small landowners in the United States that Nathan Truitt, Executive Vice President of Climate Funding at the American Forests Foundation, works with as part of the Family Forest Carbon Program have completely different priorities when it comes to co-benefits. Communities in central Appalachia, for example, value long-term sustainability of local timber markets that comes from increasing the health and productivity of the forests on their land. When communities help lead decision-making and receive project benefit funds directly, they are better able to address the issues most pressing to them and steward their lands long term.

A successful climate finance project actively engages community members as equal partners.

Striking that balance means engaging communities as equal partners. The climate space can often be incredibly unwelcoming for IPLCs, and some estimate that as little as under 1 percent of global climate finance reaches them directly.[2] Technical and legal language, complicated project methodologies, and a history of mistrust and abuse between communities and governments and companies make it difficult for communities to participate in projects.

REDD+ is an effective tool for directing funding to communities – when done well. In a recent open letter, Peoples Forests Partnership participants and eight other indigenous organizations from around the globe voiced support for REDD+. They called it one of the most powerful methods to channel direct climate finance to the Global South, adding that many recent criticisms do not paint the full picture. Community experiences and perspectives are often not considered to decide the effectiveness of a REDD+ project. But a growing chorus of voices argues that indigenous needs, knowledge, and ways of life must be metrics of project success. These communities are on the ground actively caring for the land, and they see firsthand the impacts high-quality carbon projects can have; their knowledge is a critical metric for project success. Engaging communities as equal project partners allows them to preserve their cultures, values, and environments and sustainably manage their territories for future generations.

Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative is also working with IPLC partner organizations, donors, companies, and others to promote carbon projects and jurisdictional-level funding that are rights-based, equitable, and of the highest integrity. As part of this mission, they launched the Territorial Governance Facility, along with three regional indigenous and local community organizations in Amazonia and Mesoamerica, to promote IPLC access to climate finance. After carefully ensuring community needs were being met, the Facility launched its first pilot projects in six indigenous territories this past June, all led by local leaders. With direct financial and technical support, communities are better able to protect their territories and livelihoods, resulting in increased community well-being, healthy landscapes, and successful carbon projects.

Changing how we do business in the long term is a huge undertaking – and requires a global effort. As we work to meet climate goals for 2030 and beyond, high-quality market mechanisms like REDD+ and the voluntary carbon markets remain important strategies to channel direct climate finance to indigenous forest stewards who are actively protecting their land right now. When IPLC rights, knowledge, and well-being are at the core of a carbon project, it sets up the project and community for long-term success. And as carbon markets increasingly place a higher dollar amount on projects that center these community needs, the higher prices can add immense value for communities and credit buyers and can help preserve our planet for future generations.

[1] Myers, Kim. “What’s in a carbon credit? New tools help quantify the sustainable development benefits of carbon offset projects.” Ecosystem Marketplace, March 8, 2021. Accessed May 9, 2023. https://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/articles/whats-in-a-carbon-credit-new-tools-help-quantify-the-sustainable-development-benefits-of-carbon-offset-projects/.

[2]Osorio, Karen. “A Renewed Focus on Direct Financing at International Climate Summits.” Rainforest Foundation US, March 16, 2023. Accessed May 8, 2023. https://rainforestfoundation.org/a-renewed-focus-on-direct-financing-at-international-climate-summits/.

Op-Ed: Science vs West: When experts buy bad science

(Originally published 31 August 2023 at everland.earth)

The stakes are too high for forests and communities.

Robust science is built on thorough investigation and rich, diverse debate. Without these fundamental ingredients, we have little hope of achieving an equitable path towards ending deforestation or fighting climate change.

We welcome Calyx’s perspective on our analysis of REDD+ baselines, which explores critical questions about the REDD+ mechanism that should help guide its future as we work to scale it effectively and with the urgency demanded by the climate and biodiversity crises. What is concerning however, is the apparent un-tested ‘buy-in’ of West et al’s report by Calyx, and many others, without the robust scrutiny we would expect of a community of experts who are dedicated to having legitimately strong scientific foundations for our work.

We recognise that West et al’s paper has been peer reviewed and printed in one of the most prestigious journals on the planet. While we, as a community of experts, should be able to rely on that as a strong indication of the quality of the report, it is inherent to the culture and advancement of science to undertake critical reviews of published work. Our review indicates that this work has serious problems that fundamentally call into question the results.

West et al’s findings are based on serious methodological and analytical flaws, as well as data inaccuracies, miscalculations, and a misunderstanding of the fundamental drivers of forest loss and how REDD+ carbon crediting works. When that is accepted as robust science without proper scrutiny, everyone loses. But communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis lose the most.

Everland is preparing a detailed analysis of West et al at the individual project level, which we will publish in due course. However, in the meantime, we feel it is important to point out a few critical errors we have already identified in West et al’s approach.

5 Fundamental Flaws in West et al’s analysis

  1. Basic mathematical error and over-simplified methodology: Inaccurate reporting of project baselines by the authors resulted in their use of significantly higher baseline deforestation rates for analysis than the projects actually operate under and generate avoided emissions in relation to. In one example, West et al appear to have made a basic error in their calculations that resulted in a significant overstatement of cumulative deforestation: While the actual cumulative baseline (2009-2018) reported in the Project Design Document for Madre de Dios REDD+ Project (ID 844) is 21,982.8ha, West et al mistakenly added together the cumulative baseline deforestation numbers for each year – resulting in an inaccurately reported value of a value of 125,501ha. Furthermore, in estimating the project emissions reductions, rather than using the verified values, the authors calculated the emissions reductions themselves using an over-simplified method. This resulted in an overestimation of the actual amount of emission reductions the majority of projects have been credited with. On average, this oversimplification created an overestimation of verified emission reductions of nearly 1Mt of CO2e per project on average, with a total overestimation of >17.6 million tCO2e. Combined with the overstatement of project baselines, this significantly exaggerates the climate impacts that REDD+ projects are actually credited for, undercutting the validity of West et al’s conclusions.
  2. Omission of highly material factors: The authors used a number of variables to identify potential ‘control’ areas that are statistically “similar” to a project area. However, they failed to include four key predictors of deforestation risk; road networks, navigable rivers, population density and proximity to previous deforestation. The authors also failed to account for other critical factors in predicting deforestation rates, comparing projects established in areas that would otherwise be 100% logging concessions to areas with no logging concessions. In another example, two project areas in West et al’s research were located in areas with 0% protected area coverage, but were matched with control areas where more than half the land was covered by legal protection. Deforestation in protected areas is typically much lower than in adjacent unprotected forests. These are highly material omissions that necessarily skew the data towards incorrect conclusions. No doubt this is precisely why the VCS standard requires projects include key indicators that have been missed by West et al.
  3. Misunderstanding of deforestation risk: Furthermore, the authors failed to weight their variables based on the relative risk they pose to deforestation within the context of a specific project. In other words, they failed to account for the specific factors driving deforestation for a given project. As a result, in the majority of cases the project is surrounded by more extreme deforestation than the selected control areas, meaning they’re at greater risk of imminent forest loss. Failure to understand the specific local context underlying deforestation risk is a failure to recognise the foundational baseline scenarios and theory of change underlying REDD+ interventions.
  4. Inadequate data: West et al’s analysis uses open-source geospatial data (Hansen et al 2013) in selecting control sites, validating their model and estimating verified emission reductions. This dataset is known to be highly uncertain in some key areas, including  Sub-Saharan Africa (error: ±79%) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (error: ±65%) (Tyukavina et al. 2015). Projects are required to use far superior geospatial imagery and on-the-ground verification for baseline setting and monitoring, and account for data error where it exceeds 15% by reducing the number of credits it can issue. Using inadequate data creates an apples-to-oranges comparison that cannot be relied on as robust science. And no discerning buyer would consider this to be robust due diligence.
  5. Lack of transparency of control areas: The authors did not map or otherwise indicate where the selected control areas were in relation to the project areas, providing no way to evaluate the extent to which they are located within socio-economic and biophysical regions that are similar to the project areas. This is required by the VCS standard when project developers select and propose a Reference Area as a control as part of the project validation, which is then independently audited. Without this level of transparency, it is impossible to independently verify the reasonableness of the control sites, which is the underpinning of the study’s methodology and findings.

The flaws in West et al’s approach are so fundamental we do not believe that this study can rightly be classified as ‘robust science’. As an industry, we have a duty of care to ensure we adapt and evolve our standards and methodologies in line with robust, best-in-class scientific findings. This is critical to ensure REDD+ projects continue to work as an effective tool against deforestation.

And that means we have to apply the appropriate level of rigor in evaluating which scientific findings should shape the future of REDD+, and which should not. If we get this decision wrong the implications for communities on the front lines of the climate crisis and our ability to end deforestation globally are both real and disastrous.

(Everland will publish a detailed analysis of West et al in due course.)

Why voluntary carbon markets for nature are needed right now

Please note this article was originally published by the World Economic Forum: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/08/voluntary-carbon-markets-nature-based-solutions-climate/

24 August 2023 | The best available science makes clear the devastating impacts if global average temperatures surpass pre-industrial levels by more than 1.5°C. However, it is widely agreed that avoiding this scenario is not achievable without sustained and rapid industrial decarbonization.

It is also widely agreed that we need nature-based solutions (NbS), which can provide up to 30% of the mitigation required by 2030 in order to keep the 1.5°C target in reach. NbS are a collection of nature-based approaches that both reduce and remove emissions, such as avoiding emissions through protected landscapes to limit deforestation or restoring ecosystems for carbon removal from the atmosphere.

Some good news is that we have a powerful tool at our disposal that can mobilize private sector finance and channel it toward NbS in the Global South, which is where it is most needed. That tool is the voluntary carbon market – where companies or individuals can buy carbon credits as part of their own plan to meet their climate goals.

The solution isn’t perfect. In fact, the market has come under increasing scrutiny. As we wrote earlier in the year, when we outlined five reasons why forest carbon credits are critical to climate action, the fact is that we won’t achieve our global climate targets without nature, and we won’t protect and restore nature at the scale required without carbon markets.

Here’s the simple truth. As companies work toward net zero, they will continue to put greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

Voluntary carbon market to help address emissions

The voluntary carbon market is currently the most effective way for them to address these emissions by mobilizing billions of dollars in private sector finance every year – and also helps make up the $4.1 trillion financing gap in nature by 2050. Such finance is additional to that pledged by national governments.

The value of the global voluntary carbon market topped $1 billion for the first time in 2021 and could be worth between $5-30 billion per year by 2030, with perhaps two thirds of this channelled into nature-based solutions, filling existing gaps in climate finance for nature.

However, in the last three years, only 1.2% of the annual cost effective potential of NbS has been unlocked by the voluntary carbon market.

One of the barriers is that far too often the use of carbon credits – and NbS carbon credits in particular – have been framed as an ‘either/or’ proposition. This implies companies think they can either invest in them or fund the decarbonization of their operations.

But the truth is it’s now too late to choose one or the other. Adopting a single approach is not enough to solve the twin crises of nature loss and climate change. This is why climate science is now demanding a ‘both/and’ approach – that is, simultaneously investing in internal reductions and NbS credits.

What is encouraging is that leading companies understand this “both/and” approach, and are publicly committed to it. In addition, recent research has further shown that companies that purchase a material amount of carbon credits on average reduced their emissions faster than those who have not.

High-quality carbon credits are essential for integrity

It is also key to recognize that high-quality carbon credits are essential to creating a high-integrity voluntary carbon market. The good news is that initiatives like the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market which are aiming to forge a clear path forward towards higher integrity, greater transparency and overall more consistency in the marketplace.

While it’s clear that there is still much work to do on this front, the good news is that recent recommendations issued by civil society, such as the Tropical Forest Credit Integrity guide and the NCS Alliance’s Buyer’s Guide, offer clear guidance that companies can turn to in the interim.

What does all this counsel have in common? Purchasing carbon credits through the voluntary carbon market is not an alternative to rapid decarbonization within value chains.

Rather, high-quality carbon credits are a way for companies to support a range of critical mitigation efforts outside of their value chains, including the potential to channel billions of dollars into NbS that would not receive funding otherwise.

In the future, NbS carbon credits must improve in line with this new science and guidance, updated methodologies and evolving technology.

Voluntary carbon market to accelerate climate action

When investments are made with due diligence, high-quality NbS credits will ensure that emissions reductions or removals happen, that nature is being protected or restored, and that communities are not only receiving benefits, but are also active participants.

There’s the potential for the voluntary market to do so much more, if we let it. Failure of the market now would slow humanity’s path to net-zero emissions and derail financial innovation in other ecosystem services.

Climate change and nature loss are crises and inaction is not an option. The voluntary carbon market is critical for climate action and major progress has been made to improve outcomes – with many more improvements already under way.

Now is exactly the time to invest in nature-based solutions through the voluntary carbon market, alongside other immediately deployable climate solutions, so we can ensure a better future for the planet.


How to best halt and reverse deforestation? Largest study of its kind finds answers.
Press release

ARLINGTON, Va. (August 16, 2023) – New research from Conservation International offers the most robust understanding yet of which socio-economic, cultural, regulatory and environmental factors have the greatest impact on forests – for better and worse. The study, published today in Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, is the most comprehensive and quantitative of its kind to date that identifies dozens of factors driving deforestation and reforestation.

The study – authored by Jonah Busch of Conservation International and Kalifi Ferretti-Gallon of the University of British Columbia – distills the findings of 320 peer-reviewed studies published up to 2019. That’s more than twice the evidence included in the last comprehensive overview of this kind, published in 2017 by the same authors.

The findings are timely given the increased focus on the need to reduce deforestation and stabilize global temperatures. The new peer-reviewed study – alongside existing Conservation International research that finds the world must reach zero emissions from the land sector by 2030 – can help guide conservation strategies and investments toward policies that are proven to work.

As international efforts to protect and conserve nature continue to gain ground on the world stage – as through the Global Biodiversity Framework’s 30×30 initiative and the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, among others – researchers believe these findings can serve as a guide for leaders across the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

“World leaders have committed to fight climate change by halting and reversing deforestation by 2030. This new study can help guide policies and investment toward actions that support those goals and away from those that do not,” said Busch, lead author and the climate economics fellow at Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science.

What slows deforestation:

Protected areas of many types across many places consistently have lower deforestation. Additionally, when forested area is in Indigenous territory or managed by Indigenous peoples, rates of deforestation are consistently lower. The same is true when payments are made to forest communities or landowners who keep their trees standing, making the forest worth more intact than as timber or farmland. These payments place value on the services that intact forests provide – livelihood opportunities, clean water, rainfall for agriculture and their ability to store climate-warming carbon.

The study also found that rates of deforestation are generally lower in forests with commodity certification programs in place, such as shade-grown coffee and sustainably produced palm oil initiatives. Supply chain programs, in which companies commit to reducing deforestation from their operations, consistently help keep forests intact.

Finally, the study found that enforcement of laws that help protect forests, for example field inspections, fines and monitoring of protected areas, consistently reduce deforestation.

“Left standing, forests are one of our best allies in reducing emissions and cooling a rapidly warming planet,” said Busch. “We provide the strongest evidence yet that land rights for Indigenous communities are reducing deforestation.”

What accelerates deforestation:

The study identifies agriculture and livestock – with their high economic returns – as major drivers of deforestation.

As with the 2017 study, greater accessibility, including lower elevation and proximity to roads and cities, accelerates deforestation, as do greater population and greater wealth. A country’s openness to trade is associated with higher deforestation as well.

The study also analyzed a new variable for the first time in any review study – hotter temperature. It revealed that hotter temperatures are associated with higher deforestation. As this summer has seen global temperature records repeatedly shattered, this novel finding reveals that increased deforestation may be yet another unwelcome effect of global warming.

Several factors were found to have no measurable effect on the rate of deforestation. These included good governance, democracy, peace, land tenure rights and gender balance of the local populations, in addition to the area’s access to nearby water or rainfall.

“Some of these findings surprised us – either because they’d never been found in a peer-reviewed paper until now, or because they went against conventional wisdom,” said Busch. “For example, many people suppose that poorer people are driven to deforestation to meet subsistence needs, but over and over, evidence shows there’s more deforestation in places where people are richer. And when you think about it, it makes sense: the richer you are, the more you’re able to buy machines or hire workers to clear trees.”

“In the face of climate change which renders our forests both more critical and vulnerable, a comprehensive study is our roadmap to effective conservation strategies. It is incumbent upon policy makers, corporations and conservation organizations to prioritize these and invest in sustainable practices as the planet’s future health relies on translating this knowledge into action,” said Ferretti-Gallon, a forestry researcher at the University of British Columbia’s Asia Forest Research Center.

EM Insights Webinar (Recording): Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and the Voluntary Carbon Markets

The webinar slides and recordings are available in the links below in both English and Spanish.

This virtual Ecosystem Marketplace Insights Briefing will feature speakers from The Nature Conservancy, Gold Standard, the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) to discuss how governments are engaging with carbon markets, in response to increasing interest around both Article 6 and voluntary carbon markets. The webinar will explore the role project developers and host countries can play, as well as identify insights from current pilots and legislation from around the world. Speakers will discuss the key findings and trends from guidance, reports and programmes they have implemented on these topics, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.


  • Kelley Hamrick, Senior Policy Advisory, The Nature Conservancy
  • Lydia Sheldrake, Director of Policy & Partnerships, VCMI
  • Kavya Bajaj, Government Relations Manager, Gold Standard
  • Stephen Donofrio, Managing Director, Ecosystem Marketplace (moderator)

Webinar recording (English version):

Webinar recording (Spanish version):

Webinar slides (English version):

The answers to audience questions from the session are provided in the text below:


Just wondering, are VCMs a real solution to climate change? looking at how climate change impacts tourism, there’s need for more effective efforts to that than just counting on business consciousness.

Absolutely there needs to be more than just the VCM, which is why approaches like SBTi are critical in ensuring that companies are doing real reductions within their own business. The VCM should only be used to complement real, ambitious and significant internal corporate emissions reductions.

Is there space for simplification of the A6 system? it seems incredibly complex and invites for further caution to trade…

Unfortunately… probably not. Article 6 represents an agreement by all countries in the world; it’s always going to be complex and difficult to interpret, solely from the fact that it stems from a negotiation text first and foremost.

I would be interested to hear from speakers how transparency of financial flows can be ensured in Article 6 + VCM implementation. There is legitimate concern that revenue generated from natural resources that are publicly owned are disappearing into private pockets or misappropriated corruption. Part of the concern is also due to the lack of obligation on part of project developers to conclude benefit sharing agreements.

I agree that we need more transparent financial flows. Additionally, we need better guidance and rulesets around benefits-sharing best practices (which is why we wrote a report about that!). I would also agree that we need to reduce any potential risk of corruption – unfortunately I have tried to conduct some research around corruption but it’s hard to find lessons learned or best practices, because corruption is the opposite of transparent. But agree that we need to figure out ways to minimize this risk.

Considering that countries are going to set the rules, how we Should Manage future volumes, we need to wait till new rules? Or we can set agreements on future volumes. Also if I have vintages 2021 and 2022 should they be considered on this new rules? Or only the vintages from the New rules and so on?

No easy answer here, unfortunately. I think most investors and developers have not decided to wait because there is no clear timeline for when some of these rules will be made. But there remains a risk, so it is up to each organization to figure out how much to wait or try and create contingencies to address these potential risks.

India is developing its own carbon market how it it going to affect the other international carbon market?

If it’s a domestic market, it won’t affect the Article 6. The only thing that might be impacted is overall supply and demand across different markets; at the moment, India is a large supplier for CDM and the VCM markets, but if more companies are purchasing credits domestically, that might mean VCM supply from India decreases. But maybe not – it all depends on a lot of market factors (for example, if the VCM pays more than the domestic Indian market, then maybe Indian project developers will still prefer to sell internationally)


Where do you expect to see data on trades once these are finally executed?

All Article 6 trades must be reported in the Article 6 database, found here: https://unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement/cooperative-implementation/centralized-accounting-and-reporting-platform#Submitted-initial-reports-and-updated-initial-reports. At the moment, there is only one submission, but that will change as more countries begin to trade.

Where do Switzerland’s transactions fit in this picture?

Sorry, I’m not sure which slide this comment is referring to. But we do include a summary of Switzerland’s approach to Article 6 on page 31 of this report: https://www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/TNC_To_Trade_or_Not_to_Trade_150523.pdf

How would you distinguish Article 6 vs VCM credits?

Article 6 credits are those approved by governments under Article 6.2 bilateral agreements or by the Article 6.4 Supervisory Body. VCM credits are those approved by VCM standards, like ART, ACR, CAR, Plan Vivo, Verra, Gold Standard, etc. At some point, we may see countries using VCM standards as part of the Article 6.2 trades OR we may see the Article 6.4 Supervisory Body recognize some VCM methodologies as eligible for 6.4. But at the moment, there is not much overlap.

How do you see the role of exchanges like Xpansiv helping/hurting the VCM?

Sorry, I don’t have a lot of views on this – my primary focus right now is on tracking Article 6.

Kelley, in your view who pays for the 20% buffer in the case of Indonesia? If on the VCM buy side, is it conceivable that we may see an adjusted (higher) price floor?

I’m not sure – the Indonesian legislation is only written in Bahasa, and so I was using Google translate when reading it. My impression is that the project developer would submit the credits to the buffer, but I would not be surprised if that then drives up the price of credits that project developers are willing to sell at.

Can you please help to understand, does the additional regulation in Indonesia set a cap on all carbon credits internationally, or only those that will decrease the Indonesian NDC?

All credits being sold from Indonesia will have to contribute to the buffer. Credits from activities covered by the NDC must contribute 10-20% to the buffer; credits from activities outside the NDC must contribute at least 20%.

When we say REDD+ included in Article 6, does it mean VCM or UNFCCC REDD+?

This is a great question, and I was being intentionally vague. I’m not sure, to be honest. In my opinion (and I could be wrong) I think both could be eligible. Article 6.2 is really up to countries to decide: so if a buyer country is okay with purchasing VCM REDD+, then I think that would be eligible. Ditto if a buyer country wanted to purchase UNFCCC REDD+. But this is my personal read on the negotiation text as it is currently written (which is quite open).

What considerations are there for say multinationals in ensuring there is not double counting of voluntary carbon credits?

Due diligence when purchasing a credit. But I think most of the onus will be on the VCM standards to ensure this, not multinationals.

How can project participants get CORSIA authorization for ITMOs issued by Article 6.2 mitigation projects?

Host countries give authorization for ITMOs, either under Article 6.2 or Article 6.4. Under CORSIA, host countries will also need to give authorization to any CORSIA-eligible credits wishing to get a corresponding adjustment (which wasn’t required for the initial phase of CORSIA but is required now, I believe). Project participants will need to contact their host country about authorization and this will change per country (see the case studies on page 25-28 for information on who gives authorization in various countries: https://www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/TNC_To_Trade_or_Not_to_Trade_150523.pdf).

Which mechanism accept Article 6 REDD+ methodologies? GS or VCS or?

At the moment, there are not Article 6 methodologies. Under Article 6.2, seller countries essentially can create their own methodologies or could approve pre-existing methodologies under the UNFCCC or VCM standards. Under Article 6.4, the UN Supervisory Body will determine what methodologies are eligible and right now they haven’t approved any methodologies yet (so it’s too soon to say which, if any, REDD+ methodologies will be approved).

How did you evaluate the aditionality of the measures that coudl goes to A6?

Under Article 6.2 both the seller and buyer countries must conduct their own evaluation; under Article 6.4, the Supervisory Body will determine what tests are needed to prove additionality for all of their approved methodologies.

Can you elaborate a bit more why Indonesia decided to place a freeze on VCM exports?

My understanding (not living in Indonesia) is that the government was concerned about VCM exports limiting their ability to make claims around their NDC achievement. So they placed a freeze on exports while they worked on legislation to finalize the rules around carbon credit sales within and outside of Indonesia.

For countries that have issued “rules, guidance, etc.” what is range of treatment for existing VVM projects already operating in a given country?

o Option 1, Authorization required for VCM credits: Some countries may mandate that all carbon credits exported to international buyers – be it for voluntary or compliance purposes – must have a corresponding adjustment. The Bahamas’ Climate Change and Carbon Market Initiatives Act, 2022 requires this.

o Option 2, Authorization not required for VCM credits: Some countries may not mandate the use of corresponding adjustments for voluntary purposes. Ghana, for example, states that VCM projects do not need a corresponding adjustment but may request one, if the buyer wishes to have a CA.

o Option 3, Authorization not required, depending on the type of claim: Some countries may wish to require authorization for credits used by voluntary buyers for offsetting claims, while credits used towards “mitigation contribution” or “beyond value chain mitigation” (a similar concept defined by SBTi) claims would not require a corresponding adjustment.

o Option 4 – most countries have given any indication about which option they intend to use yet. J

What are the implications for project developers if CAs are to be required for a given country?

This could mean that project developers must get permission from the host country, if a CA is required for their project. Some countries may have easier authorization processes than others, and there could be a risk of corruption (which some project proponents experienced under the Clean Development Mechanism, which also required projects to get host country authorization).

India has announced project types under Article 6. What happens next? What can private sector do to move things forward from here?

Probably wait for more guidance unfortunately. I know India announced the eligible project types, but I’m not sure if the government has announced how they will authorize specific projects yet. Additionally, India will need to wait for the 6.4 Supervisory Body to determine which methodologies are eligible under 6.4. See page 22 for more details about the 6.4 process: https://www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/TNC_To_Trade_or_Not_to_Trade_150523.pdf

Can a project that started before 2021 get correspoding adjustment and become an ITMO for credits issued after 2021?

ITMOs, by definition in the Article 6 text, can only occur after 2021. So credits before 2021 will not be able to become an ITMO. That said, some pre-2021 credits can be used by host countries (but not as ITMOs). CERs from CDM projects registered (not issued) after 2013 can be used for the first NDC compliance without a corresponding adjustment by the host country. However, these transfers will only occur until a date limit, which will be negotiated in the future. It is important to consider that CERs used toward 1st NDC are not considered ITMOs (Article 6.2 units). ITMOs by definition are generated in 2021 or later, whereas eligible CERs are from 2013-2020.

Gold Standard

What is Gold Standard’s view on Mitigation contribution claims , should ITMOs be prefered ? What happens retrospectively if a country does not allow export of carbon credits ?

Mitigation contributions are not necessarily correspondingly adjusted, while ITMOs traded would be. There are different uses for each, and there may be more demand for correspondingly adjusted units. If a country decides not to sell ITMOs it has generated, it may use it for other purposes, with consideration to any bilateral agreement it has entered into and the terms of it. Read more on our take on mitigation contributions here.

How can I know if my country is already a host country?

If it has announced its projects/sectors/activities will be participating in Article 6.

How and when can we access Investment Fund provided by Gold Standard?

Please see the details for the impact fund here.

Just to clarify, according to Gold Standard’s interpretation then any financing of a country’s NDC via the VCM would require authorization under article 6?

If a mitigation outcome generated is used for any purposes under Article 6.2, then it would need to be authorized to do so and become an ITMO. This ITMO can then be used for different purposes, including the VCM. However, this does not mean any financing for NDCs via the VCM require authorization.

What is the current status for GS credits issued from Zimbabwe, and what is the path forward for allowing the trade of Zimbabwe-based credits on the GS registry?

After the new regulations were released by the government on Friday, we are internally consulting on our next steps. The status has not changed since July.

Does GS plan to introduce IFM methodology for AFOLU projects?

Yes, IFM is an eligible category and we welcome submission of new methodologies by developers. There has not been a methodology proposal under consideration yet.

Does Gold Standard issue biodiversity and water credit other than carbon credits?

You can find information on our registries and credits here.

How is the carbon price set in bilateral cooperation projects?

It depends on the bilateral agreement and dictating clauses, if any. However, prices are set depending on the project. The host country decides to authorize the project/activity for the bilateral agreement trade considering all information they have (collected) on the project.

Is the early mover programme available on online to the public?

Yes, please find it here. The Programme was concluded in June 2023, and paves the way to our future work.

Can I assume that there are two types of GS credits; credits with corresponding adjustments and credits without corresponding adjustments? If a developer requests corresponding adjustment, who makes the request to the host country, the GS or the developer?

Yes. The developer makes the request to the host country.

Can you explain a bit more the term Domestic infrastructure?

To participate in Article 6, Governments may choose to develop/have in place their own domestic national infrastructure (e.g. registries), or use external third-party infrastructure, such as from the UNFCCC or standards such as Gold Standard. You can read this more in detail here.

Will the Gold Standard impose more stringent standards for issues such as historical baselines for REDD+ than are required by the UNFCCC rules?

Gold Standard does not issue standards for REDD+, and has not planned to issue such standards.

I think it is important to involve the private sector in the host country. Profit sharing will also be important. Will credits be shared with the host country? If so, does GS have rules in place? Also, what are your thoughts on SOPs?

This really depends on host country regulations, e.g. through share of proceeds of credits for administrative fees or national funds. Through our Registries Terms of Use, we are required to comply with national rules and regulations. Share of proceeds are necessary, but need to strike the right balance to ensure it does not disincentivize market activities.

North America capacity building:

Is there focus on capacity building for carbon markets in North America?

There hasn’t been as much focus on capacity building for Article 6 for Canada or the United States. However, that’s because most capacity building is focused on supplier countries and I haven’t heard Canada or the US mention any interest in selling carbon credits yet.

Article 6.4

When do we expect trades under Article 6.4 to start given how slow the enabling under UN has taken.

For the Article 6.4 mechanism to be up and running, a separate body called the Article 6.4 Supervisory Body needs to develop rules on methodologies, baselines, safeguards, guidance on removals, etc. Even if the Supervisory Body develops such guidance quickly, the countries need to “approve” them at COP28 in 2023, so the best-case scenario is that these trades begin to take place in 2024. Likely, the first methodologies developed will be adaptations from the CDM.

How exactly is Article 6.2 different from 6.4?

Article 6.2 is based on bilateral agreements, which provide countries with more flexibility to design their preferred rules and establish quality controls and safeguards, as long as they comply with the Article 6.2 guidance. Moreover, countries that aim to move quickly may prefer to use Article 6.2, as the Article 6.4 mechanism may take longer to be up and running. Also, Article 6.2 has no mandatory fees, while Article 6.4 has mandatory monetary contributions and automatic cancellations. On the other hand, establishing bilateral agreements under Article 6.2 comes with a transactional and political cost, which requires additional time and capacity compared to a more standardized mechanism. All units generated under Article 6.4 go through a centralized body with pre-approved methodologies, making the process and eligibility of these units more predictable. Lastly, the Article 6.4 framework is an update from the Kyoto Protocol’s CDM, so some countries could use an updated version of already existing infrastructure to engage.

Will there be a global registry for AR6.2 and 6.4?

There will be multiple registries. Article 6.2 will set up an Article 6 database where countries will report their trades. However, countries can use their own registry, another country’s registry or the Article 6.2 international registry (which still needs to be developed), so there will not be a single registry that countries must use. Instead the Article 6 database will provide a yearly snapshot of all trades across all registries (for 6.2). In contrast, Article 6.4 will have a centralized registry. The negotiators are still discussing whether the Article 6.2 database (with reports from the to-be-developed “international registry” or country registries) and the Article 6.4 registry will be able to transfer credits or if you can look at both dataset at the same time (the technical language here is around the “inter-operability” of the registries in the latest negotiation text.) Please read pages 20-22 for more detail here:

VCM guidance

What is the mandate for VCM guidance to set standards for demand-side? Will investor acceptance and uptake be the deciding factor as to whether any guidance sticks.

This is an open question. Standards could start to regulate demand-side activities, but I think most of the supply-side standards (Verra, CAR, ACR, Gold Standard, etc) don’t intend to. Instead I think demand-side standards like the Science-based targets initiative and VCMi are more likelyto provide regulation here. Then, as you mention in the comment, there may investor or buyer norms – these are different than requirements by standards, but are still powerful in shaping the VCM.

Re: Article 6 and Corresponding Adjustments in the VCM. Currently, most governments don’t even have a process in place for authorizations. VCM projects are selling credits and these are being retired by corporates for their ESG commitments (both within the country of the project’s origin and outside of it). Is the country where the projects originate ultimately responsible to account for VCM action that cannot be legitimately claimed in the country’s NDC? Should the default assumption not be that all VCM credits are ‘authorized’ – should the onnus not be on the government to make adjustments?

The default should not be that all credits are authorized. Authorization, by definition, requires a government approval. That said, there is a debate about whether authorization is needed for the VCM; for example, some people and organizations would say that a non-authorized credit is better for the VCM than an authorized one.

Corporates / SBTi / investment / buy side

What can the speakers tell us about the implications for corporate investment in nature-based solutions should the latest versions of the Science Based Target’s Initiative’s Beyond Value Chain Mitigation and Criteria & Recommendations for Near Term Targets be finalized as currently drafted?

I haven’t been following SBTi decisions recently, so I don’t have any comments at this time.

What is the incentive for corporates to invest in carbon offsets if they cannot obtain a corresponding adjustment and claim an offset?

I think there is currently a difference between a corporate claiming an offset and a corporate purchasing an offset with a corresponding adjustment. At the moment, corporates can make offsetting claims without a CA. If standards decide to change the claim and/or require a CA, then I do think more market research is needed to better understand why corporates would want to make a non-offsetting, non-CA claim.

If a company has several investments made to source carbon credits for reaching their Net Zero target (e.g. developed an afforestation project in sub-sahara Africa), and the host country its projects are located in is expanding their NDC to cover the activity of the project, would the company not lose the right to claim Net Zero through these credits?

Not at the moment, because currently VCM standards do not require these credits to have a corresponding adjustment. However, in the future, if a company wishes to buy credits with a CA and the host country is not on target to meet its NDC (or expands its NDC), then the corporate may not have the ability to purchase those credits with that claim. There is a separate interesting discussion here: what if a country agrees to make a CA for those credits, but then changes its mind because it is not on track to meet its NDC? The negotiators are discussing whether or not authorizations for a CA can be revoked or amended; these negotiations are not yet final, but will be important to watch in the future.

How can future-proofed strategies in this case be built that help companies hedge against future price increases and supply shortages under such a risk of force-majoure?

I think the first step is making sure companies realize there will be price increases and likely supple shortages. The VCM at the moment isn’t really working as intended – if the world was truly on the path to 1.5C, all of the cheapest abatement options should already have been done by now. We live in an imperfect world, so we still have a lot of “low hanging fruit” in terms of emissions reductions and removals, which is why companies are able to still buy offsets at <$10/t for the last few years. But that is not where the world is going. Companies should be using things like the social cost of carbon and other metrics to better predict where the market will head over the next decade.

How is Article 6 aligned with programs like the SBTi considering the ‘restrictions’ placed on carbon credit offsetting?

Article 6 is an agreement by all of the world’s countries – SBTi is a non-profit initiative that is trying to provide guidance to companies about what “ambitious” climate targets look like. They don’t overlap at all. The Article 6 negotiators are not looking to align anything with SBTi; if anything, it should and will be the other way around.



Re. authorized vs. non-authorised transfer under Article 6 – my understanding is that the rules will be finalised at COP28 – is this the case and what will the negotiations cover if so? Will non- authorized transfer to private sector buyers be allowed, and will this lead to double counting?

Most of the rules have already been finalized. Additional rules around reporting and tracking of Article 6 trades still needs to be finalized. These might be finalized at COP28 but will *all* of the Article 6 rules be finalized at COP28? Probably not. Negotiators will always find something new to discuss. J As far as I know, the Article 6 negotiations will only regulate authorized or non-authorized Article 6 credits (ITMOs). They are not going to opine on VCM credits that have authorization for a CA (or not).

I’d like to know more about “No Authorization”.

Article 6 establishes countries’ right to authorize any credits for international trades under Article 6.2 or 6.4, or for “other international mitigation purposes” (OIMP). These other purposes include an umbrella of objectives, including use in the CORSIA, domestic markets, and the VCM. The decision of whether to require authorization, and thus a corresponding adjustment, for these other purposes is left up to individual countries and will likely lead to a variety of approaches dependent on specific country circumstances. Here are how countries are currently considering whether to regulate – or not – the VCM:

o Option 1, Authorization required for VCM credits: Some countries may mandate that all carbon credits exported to international buyers – be it for voluntary or compliance purposes – must have a corresponding adjustment. The Bahamas’ Climate Change and Carbon Market Initiatives Act, 2022 requires this.

o Option 2, Authorization not required for VCM credits: Some countries may not mandate the use of corresponding adjustments for voluntary purposes. Ghana, for example, states that VCM projects do not need a corresponding adjustment but may request one, if the buyer wishes to have a CA.

o Option 3, Authorization not required, depending on the type of claim: Some countries may wish to require authorization for credits used by voluntary buyers for offsetting claims, while credits used towards “mitigation contribution” or “beyond value chain mitigation” (a similar concept defined by SBTi) claims would not require a corresponding adjustment.

Providing authorizations and approvals for correspoding adjustments will require significant institutional/ procedureal and policy investments from host country governments. Some countries are also asking if this will be worth it. Thoughts?

Agreed, this will require a lot of thought. Any country that wishes to participate in Article 6 trading will need to figure this out, otherwise they cannot make an A6 trade. However, countries may wish to wait or see how others’ experiences are first – or countries may not wish to participate in Article 6 at all. These are all options.

Can the panelists give insight into how interested investors/buyers are in ‘mitigation contributions’ instead of an actual emission reduction unit? Is there a risk that by tightening accounting rules, we too tightly restrict credit transfers back to the private sector and kill growth?

I’m not sure. At the moment, I haven’t seen too many investors or buyers mention interest in this claim, but I also have seen many credits marketed with these claims either. I do think that is starting to change – I believe Myclimate and South Pole have both started to provide more restrictions around buyer claims of their credits, so it would be interesting to ask them about their experiences.


Will article 6 mean that some of the VCM projects will become equivalents of compliance credits like EU ETS for example?

No. Think of Article 6 as a new market, not a replacement for the VCM. Some VCM credits are eligible for compliance markets (like the Colombia and South African markets, for example) while others are not (VCM credits are not allowed in the EU ETS). In a similar way, some VCM methodologies may be accepted in Article 6.4 but many might not. These are all separate markets with separate rules.

Would article 6 credits be accepted in EUETS?

That is up to the EU to decide. They may allow all Article 6 credits (from 6.2 and 6.4) or they may reject or limit Article 6 credits. The EU ETS used to allow all types of credits under the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism, for example, but then started to limit credits to specific project types and locations as time went on.

Is it possible to transition credits from the VCM to the compliance market ? For example Voluntary credits from a non EU LDC to the be sold in the EU ETS ? If so, under which standards, and how ?

It could be possible but that is up to each compliance market to decide if and how any transfers can happen. At the moment, the EU ETS does not allow for any transfers from the VCM. Colombia, South Africa, South Korea and and Singapore do allow for some VCM credits into their compliance markets though.


Benefit sharing:

Some countries such as Zimbabwe and others are setting costs and benefits-sharing rules for VCM activities in-country without sufficient details on the mechanisms of benefits sharing or how costs will be levvied. This threatens to scare off VCM activities. Do the panelists have experience with such costs and benefits sharing rules and can provide insight on how they see it unfolding, and how investors will react?

This is a huge issue. I think it’s unsurprising more countries are trying to understand this space, but more work could be done to come up with solutions that don’t scare off VCM investment while ensuring more benefits remain on the ground. It’s a priority for TNC to work on but we don’t have any answers yet! If you have thoughts, please reach out to us – we are hoping to conduct some research on this topic in the fall.



Re. the case of Ghana and selling ER units for conditional targets, does this mean that Ghana cannot fulfill its NDC, as they will make a corresponding adjustment for tranferred units generated under the conditional sector? Or how will they meet their NDC targets through the VCM?

This is a great question and one without a good answer. Ghana will meet its unconditional NDC target without selling credits. However, if Ghana makes a corresponding adjustments for credits from activities under their “conditional” target, then that might mean they don’t actually meet their conditional target because they are transferring those claims outside of the country. The reason this is so confusing is because “conditional” targets aren’t actually part of the Paris Agreement – countries came up with this idea but its not something ever envisioned by the Paris Agreement. The PA only wants targets (it doesn’t care if they are conditional or unconditional). I would guess Ghana is treated the unconditional target as the actual target, and thus isn’t worried about not meeting its conditional target because they already said that additional mitigation requires additional finance.

In reference to Latin American countries, at this point is it feasible for them to comply with the NDC?

In the current scenario it would be better to attract private investment to guarantee the sustainability of forests or improve production. Each country has made its own unique NDC, so I don’t know how feasible it is for each country in Latin America to meet their NDC. Theoretically, every country should meet their NDC and their NDC announcement usually has a lot of political and scientific considerations behind it – they aren’t made lightly.

What if the credits from a RE Project are not pledged towards the NDC?

You mean, if a VCM project is not part of a country’s NDC (and in this case, is an RE project)? At the moment VCM projects do not need a CA, so nothing would change until/unless VCM standards start to require something different.

How should countries make these decisions, where the NDC does not stipulate conditional/ unconditional targets/ activities?

That’s the big question. They will likely need to consider the risk of selling a credit now if they aren’t sure about meeting their NDC, and they will want to consider whether to restrict sales to specific sectors, prices, etc. There’s no easy answer here.

As regards countries waiting to see whether they are on track with their NDCs (and then deciding to trade), let’s not forget that BTRs, starting from 2024 will mean biennial NDC reporting, so they should know whether they are on track quite soon.

Yes, they should so we might see some more trades under Article 6, especially for those countries with a five-year (2025) target.

Will we see a convergence of voluntary and compliance markets moving forward?

Given that article 6 is likely to increasingly be impacted by Article 6 and NDC’s. I think so, but it likely won’t be a clean overlap. Some compliance markets may allow more overlap than others. It’s going to be a patchwork of various eligible rather than a single blanket approach unfortunately.

To what extent do you think the government’s involvement with VCM is successful currently?

Honestly I think most governments have not paid attention to the VCM until recently. I’m not sure I’ve seen any approaches that are super successful here but we are still in early stages of government involvement with the VCM in most countries.

How would you recomment Countries incorporate Short Lived Climate Pollutants into their Article 6 NDCs?

It depends on the country. A country could try to sell SLCP mitigation under an Article 6.2 trade, if they could find a buyer interested in purchasing it.

Corresponding Adjustment

What is the incentive for countries to require Corresponding Adjustments for both VCM and A6 credits?

I’m not sure yet. Some countries see this as an environmental integrity requirement – they would agreement with the argument that all credits (VCM or A6) need an adjustment. I believe the Bahamas falls under that category. But many countries haven’t taken a position on this yet.

How should voluntary market project developers account for the corresponding adjustments in the future? Enhance buffer account withholdings in the interim? Difficult implications for longer term financial feasibility …. more like guesstimations at this point. How can we overcome these risks and barriers to investment?

I’m not sure, but a few ideas could include better protections for yourselves and communities in any long-term contracts signed with buyers; making sure to engage with the host government whenever possible (though many governments don’t have clear opportunities for engagement here); and yes, maybe consider things like insurance or additional buffers. It’s a real problem and a real risk without great solutions at the moment.

Is a CA a adjustment on the amount of carbon credits that is counted/split towards the host country and buyer country like the Japanese system. or is the adjustment on the host country’s NDC itself?

Theoretically it will be an adjustment towards the NDC (through the biennial transparency reports) but I’m not sure how this will actually look in practice. Since we haven’t seen this actually happen yet, it’s difficult to say exactly how the adjustment will look.

If A6.4 will be replacing CDM, more like compliance market, will there be need for CA?

Yes, a corresponding adjustment is legally required for all Article 6.2 and 6.4 transactions (with some minor exceptions in 6.4 – read more here on page 17: https://www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/TNC_To_Trade_or_Not_to_Trade_150523.pdf)


New EM Insights Webinar on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement and the Voluntary Carbon Markets

Register here/Inscríbase aquí:

When/Fecha y hora: Wednesday, August 16th at 10:00 AM Eastern Time (GMT-4:00) / Miércoles 16 de agosto a las 10:00 a.m. Hora del este (GMT-4: 00)

La traducción en español se proporciona a continuación

This virtual Ecosystem Marketplace Insights Briefing will feature speakers from The Nature Conservancy, Gold Standard, the Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) to discuss how governments are engaging with carbon markets, in response to increasing interest around both Article 6 and voluntary carbon markets. The webinar will explore the role project developers and host countries can play, as well as identify insights from current pilots and legislation from around the world. Speakers will discuss the key findings and trends from guidance, reports and programmes they have implemented on these topics, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.


  • Kelley Hamrick, Senior Policy Advisory, The Nature Conservancy  
  • Lydia Sheldrake, Director of Policy & Partnerships, VCMI 
  • Kavya Bajaj, Government Relations Manager, Gold Standard
  • Stephen Donofrio, Managing Director, Ecosystem Marketplace (moderator)


El próximo seminario web de Ecosystem Marketplace, como parte de la serie “EM Insights Briefings” de 2023, a desarrollarse este miércoles 16 de agosto junto a The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Gold Standard y la Iniciativa Voluntaria de Integridad de los Mercados de Carbono (VCMI).

Fecha y hora: Miércoles 16 de agosto a las 10:00 a.m. Hora del este (GMT-4: 00)

El seminario web contará con traducción en vivo en español para nuestros colegas de habla hispana que asistan al evento. La inscripción es gratuita y puede hacerlo dando clic en el enlace que está al final.

Los panelistas de las organizaciones mencionadas conversarán acerca de cómo los gobiernos se involucran con los mercados de carbono, en respuesta al creciente interés en torno al Artículo 6 y los mercados voluntarios de carbono. La sesión explorará hallazgos clave, ideas y tendencias de guías, informes y programas implementados por TNC, VCMI y Gold Standard sobre estos temas, seguida de una sesión de preguntas y respuestas con la audiencia. Podrá seleccionar el idioma de su preferencia (español o inglés) cuando se una al seminario web.

Contaremos con los siguientes panelistas:

  • Lydia Sheldrake, Directora de Políticas y Asociaciones en VCMI
  • Kavya Bajaj, Gerente de Relaciones Gubernamentales en Gold Standard
  • Kelley Hamrick, asesora sénior de políticas de The Nature Conservancy
  • Moderado por el director general de Ecosystem Marketplace, Stephen Donofrio


The Nature Conservancy: 

Article 6 Explainer (2023)
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement started a new era of carbon trading. Now, countries can invest and trade in carbon mitigation projects outside their borders to meet their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). In this report, the authors offer straightforward guidance on what Article 6 is, what was decided in 2022 at COP27, and what the future holds for Article 6. Questions addressed in the report include: Why have countries not yet started trading under Article 6? How do nature and REDD+ fit in Article 6? and How does Article 6 impact the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM)? 

To Trade or Not to Trade (2023)
Article 6 of the Paris Agreement invites countries to collaborate through investments and trades in meeting their Nationally Determined Contributions and in raising global action towards limiting temperature rise to 1.5C by 2050. At the heart of international carbon trade accounting lies the concept of “corresponding adjustments,” which requires seller countries to subtract emission reductions and removals from their NDC before the buyer country adds the credits to their NDC target. In this report, the authors discuss key decisions around Article 6 trading, including how countries can evaluate the risks and opportunities of trading. The report also includes case studies of Article 6 implementation and details the debate around whether and how the voluntary carbon market intersects with Article 6 trading. 

Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI): 

The Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative (VCMI) is an international non-profit organization with a mission to enable high-integrity voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) that deliver real and additional benefits to the atmosphere, help protect nature, and accelerate the transition to ambitious, economy-wide climate policies and regulation.  

It works to foster a shared vision for high-integrity VCMs to make a meaningful contribution to climate action while also supporting the achievement of the UN SDGs. VCMI connects, aligns with, and amplifies, initiatives that share this vision. 

On the demand-side, the VCMI Claims Code is a rulebook on how companies can make voluntary use of carbon credits as part of credible, science-aligned net-zero decarbonization pathways. It builds trust and confidence in how companies engage with VCMs, assisting them in making credible climate claims. On the supply-side, the VCM Access Strategy Toolkit provides guidance for countries to engage in high-integrity VCMs in support of national climate and economic prosperity. 

VCM Access Strategy Toolkit

The VCM Access Strategy Toolkit provides guidance for countries to engage in high-integrity voluntary carbon markets (VCMs) in support of national climate and economic prosperity. 

Developed in partnership with Climate Focus and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Toolkit sets out key considerations for host countries to aid decisions on whether, why, how, and when to engage with VCMs. 

Corporate commitments to climate targets are rising steeply, and with that, demand for high-quality carbon credits from credible projects. This Toolkit aims to help governments create an enabling environment to unlock this growing demand while maximizing the benefits of thriving, high-integrity VCMs for their country. 

The Toolkit is available to download from the VCMI Website: https://vcmintegrity.org/vcm-access-strategy-toolkit/


Gold Standard: 

Gold Standard was established in 2003 to manage robust standards to enable activities to deliver positive impact for climate change and sustainable development. With over 2700 projects applying our standard in over 100 countries across the world, we have to date been able to mobilise at least USD $36bn of shared value towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Following the adoption of the Article 6 rulebook, governments can use Gold Standard for the Global Goals to certify mitigation outcomes generated and transferred internationally under the Paris Agreement. New requirements and registry features allow for the management of authorised credits in line with international rules, while Gold Standard is building new procedures to share information across registries and with national focal points. 

Gold Standard’s thought leadership has shaped discussions on Article 6 by pioneering support mechanisms for the market, including the development of a helpdesk, guides and papers, and creating opportunities for peer-to-peer exchange through knowledge sharing platforms. As newer requirements to operationalise Article 6 emerge, Gold Standard is applying its expertise to support governments to prepare for its use while aligning our services to support impact in an evolving market.

Early Mover Programme (2022-2023) 

The adoption of the Article 6 rulebook at COP26 launched the groundwork for Article 6 implementation, initiating the journey towards high-integrity use of market mechanisms under Article 6 at scale. This called for governments and the private sector to build capacity, tools, and best practice approaches to translate the guidance into real-world action. In this context, Gold Standard, with support from the German government, implemented the recently concluded ‘Early Mover Programme’ to support and enable high integrity initial applications of Article 6 for host countries, project developers, and other stakeholders. The programme has been implemented with support from partners, through piloting, knowledge-sharing among project developers, and mapping the state of Article 6 preparations in major markets across the world. As we look to the future, steps taken by national governments could enable investment through carbon market activities that contributes to a growing, high-integrity carbon market with locally-shaped activities and benefits retained locally, if implemented effectively. 

Artigos sobre “cowboys do carbono” recebem cliques, mas correm o risco de ignorar o que as comunidades indígenas estão realmente dizendo

O ambiente de financiamento climático está em risco. Confrontados com uma investida de cobertura da mídia orientada por uma agenda que visa desacreditar uma das maiores fontes de financiamento disponíveis para a proteção florestal, mecanismos como REDD+ e mercados voluntários de carbono podem ser injustamente desacreditados a ponto de perderem impulso e apoio em um momento crítico para a ação climática. Os créditos de REDD+, especificamente os projetos financiados por meio do Mercado Voluntário de Carbono (VCM, na sigla em inglês), enfrentam críticas crescentes por parte da mídia. No entanto, o que esses artigos excessivamente generalizados geralmente ignoram são as experiências e perspectivas dos povos indígenas e das comunidades tradicionais (PICT). Essas comunidades são as que estão no território, gerenciando ativamente a terra. Elas testemunham e vivenciam os efeitos positivos do REDD+ e de outros créditos de carbono bem executados, e muitas estão expressando seu apoio em alto e bom som. Deveríamos estar dando mais ouvidos às pessoas que vivenciam os projetos de REDD+ do que os críticos externos do Norte Global.

O desmatamento e a degradação florestal são generalizados, sendo responsáveis por 11% das emissões de carbono em todo o mundo por ano.[1] No entanto, por meio do desmatamento evitado, cerca do total de um ano das emissões globais de combustíveis fósseis são atualmente armazenadas em terras protegidas,[2] specialmente em terras protegidas que se sobrepõem a terras indígenas,[3] sendo a Amazônia brasileira responsável por 36% desse carbono. Esse é um grande incentivo para aumentar as salvaguardas da Floresta Amazônica, aumentar o financiamento climático direto para os povos indígenas que a protegem e reforçar o apoio mais amplo a esse financiamento.

Os PICT são fundamentais para a proteção da Amazônia. Eles defendem suas florestas contra a grilagem de terras, atividades e exploração ilegais e conflitos fundiários, mas, segundo algumas estimativas, recebem menos de 1% do financiamento para a mitigação do clima.[4] Os créditos de REDD+, tanto por meio de programas jurisdicionais quanto do VCM, são uma das melhores ferramentas disponíveis para impulsionar o financiamento direto para apoiar os direitos e os meios de subsistência dos PICT. Isso permite que estes povos e comunidades continuem protegendo seus territórios, inclusive a biodiversidade e os estoques de carbono em suas fronteiras.

No início deste ano, um grupo de organizações lideradas por indígenas e baseadas no Sul Global que trabalham em mais de 40 países divulgou uma carta aberta em apoio ao REDD+. Elas enfatizaram que o REDD+ é atualmente uma das únicas maneiras de acessar diretamente o financiamento climático. O REDD+ permite que os PICT continuem protegendo e monitorando seus territórios usando métodos tradicionais; que busquem economias sustentáveis e baseadas na natureza, alinhadas com seus valores culturais; e que garantam os direitos legais sobre suas terras. Quando a mídia opta por focar nos aspectos negativos do REDD+ para provar um ponto de vista, isso prejudica diretamente as comunidades e perpetua sua exclusão das conversas e decisões das quais têm o direito de participar. Os PICT estão na linha de frente da defesa das florestas, e é fundamental que suas necessidades sejam ouvidas e seus apelos à ação, apoiados.

Isso não quer dizer que o REDD+ não tenha falhas. Para que os créditos de REDD+ sejam eficazes, eles devem ser da mais alta integridade. Isso significa que os projetos e os programas jurisdicionais devem proporcionar tanto o sequestro de carbono quanto benefícios diretos à comunidade. Isso é feito por meio do envolvimento dos PICT como parceiros equitativos desde o primeiro dia para garantir que seus direitos e interesses sejam respeitados. Os projetos de carbono de alta integridade seguem as diretrizes do Consentimento Livre, Prévio e Informado (CLPI), permitem o acesso direto dos PICT aos mercados de carbono e reconhecem seus direitos a quaisquer créditos de carbono desenvolvidos em suas terras. Os projetos e programas jurisdicionais também devem garantir o compartilhamento equitativo e transparente dos benefícios em consulta com as comunidades. Embora seja importante que a mídia promova o REDD+ de alta integridade e responsabilize os atores do mercado, as histórias contadas também devem ser equilibradas. Desacredite os créditos ruins, sim, mas aproveite esse momento como uma oportunidade para destacar o REDD+ bem feito. Elogiá-los publicamente é um meio poderoso de apoiar projetos de alta integridade e programas jurisdicionais de que o mundo precisa para realizar ações climáticas na escala necessária para atingir as metas climáticas globais.

Muitos desses componentes de integridade decorrem de precedentes estabelecidos pelo Projeto de Carbono Florestal Suruí, o primeiro projeto REDD+ liderado por indígenas, lançado em 2009 pela Forest Trends com o povo Suruí e outros parceiros locais, incluindo o Instituto de Conservação e Desenvolvimento Sustentável da Amazônia (Idesam), a Equipe de Conservação da Amazônia (ECAM), o Fundo Brasileiro para a Biodiversidade (Funbio) e a Kanindé. Naquela época, o desmatamento evitado não era um termo oficialmente reconhecido, o que significa que muitas das metodologias desse projeto foram criadas e testadas pela primeira vez. Apesar de vários desafios e de sua descontinuação final em 2018, o projeto reduziu drasticamente o desmatamento em seus primeiros cinco anos e estabeleceu alguns precedentes importantes para projetos desse tipo no futuro.

As histórias que discutem esse projeto geralmente ignoram os marcos importantes que este alcançou. O mais importante é que o projeto reconheceu todos os povos indígenas do Brasil como proprietários de quaisquer créditos de carbono resultantes de projetos desenvolvidos em suas terras. Também financiou seis iniciativas econômicas autossuficientes, como a produção de castanha-do-pará e de artesanato, que continuam a gerar renda para essas comunidades até hoje. O Projeto de Carbono Florestal Suruí também foi um dos primeiros usos totalmente documentados do processo CLPI.

Para dar continuidade a esses esforços, a Iniciativa de Governança Territorial e Comunidades do Forest Trends está trabalhando com organizações parceiras do PICT, doadores, empresas e outras instituições para monitorar e promover projetos de carbono de alta integridade e financiamento em nível jurisdicional que proporcionem benefícios ambientais e socioeconômicos diretos para estes povos e comunidades. Acreditamos que é importante promover práticas recomendadas e salvaguardas, ao mesmo tempo em que colocamos a liderança e o conhecimento dos PICT no centro do espaço de financiamento do clima e da conservação.

Com esse objetivo, também cofundamos a Peoples Forests Partnership, lançada na COP26 em Glasgow para promover as melhores práticas para projetos de alta integridade no Mercado Voluntário de Carbono entre os PICT e os desenvolvedores de carbono. Em 2022, também lançamos o Mecanismo de Governança Territorial com três importantes organizações regionais indígenas e comunitárias locais na Amazônia e na Mesoamérica (AMPB, CONFENIAE e AIDESEP) para ajudar as comunidades a desenvolver a capacidade de que precisam para proteger seus territórios e defender seus interesses em mercados e contextos políticos em rápida mudança. Quando têm apoio direto para a governança de suas comunidades, elas podem proteger com mais eficiência seus territórios, modos de vida e a biodiversidade e os estoques de carbono em suas terras – tudo isso resulta em créditos de carbono de alta integridade e a projetos bem-sucedidos.

No mês passado, lideramos um curso de treinamento com o Ministério dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil sobre os desafios e as oportunidades que os povos indígenas no Brasil enfrentam com os mecanismos de financiamento climático, como os mercados de carbono e os programas jurisdicionais de REDD+. Essa colaboração ocorre em um momento crítico para o governo brasileiro; eles estão preparando um novo projeto de lei que determinará a estrutura do mercado de carbono brasileiro, e é essencial que as perspectivas indígenas façam parte dessa discussão e que seus direitos sejam protegidos na política nacional.

Enquanto trabalhamos para atingir as metas climáticas globais, os instrumentos de mercado desempenharão um papel importante para levar o financiamento climático às comunidades locais. O financiamento público e filantrópico, por si só, não é suficiente para mudar o paradigma da exploração histórica e do desmatamento em territórios indígenas. Quando bem feitas, as compensações podem ser uma ótima solução à medida que mudamos para uma bioeconomia baseada na natureza em longo prazo.

Quando os “cowboys do carbono” e os artigos de sucesso do mercado de carbono generalizam demais os mecanismos de financiamento climático como o REDD+, decidindo que todos os projetos devem ser mal-intencionados, isso tem o potencial de acabar com o financiamento. Talvez essa seja a intenção. As empresas já estão sinalizando hesitação em continuar com o financiamento de carbono após um período de cobertura negativa da mídia sobre aquelas que o fizeram. O financiamento climático já é um espaço incrivelmente complexo e técnico, e acrescentar mais incertezas é um desserviço às PICT que precisam desse financiamento agora para garantir seus direitos e manter suas florestas em pé.

Espero que, daqui para frente, o REDD+ de alta integridade continue com força total e que os projetos e programas jurisdicionais se preparem para atender às necessidades dos administradores de florestas indígenas. O financiamento orientado pelo respeito aos direitos, conhecimentos e meios de subsistência indígenas e de comunidades tradicionais é fundamental para enfrentar as mudanças climáticas, conservar as florestas e apoiar as comunidades.

Sobre o autor: Beto Borges é Diretor da Iniciativa de Comunidades e Governança Territorial da Forest Trends

[1] Dunne, Daisy. “Deforestation Has Driven up Hottest Day Temperatures, Study Says.” Carbon Brief, April 23, 2018. https://www.carbonbrief.org/deforestation-has-driven-up-hottest-day-temperatures/.

[2] Duncanson, L., et al. “The Effectiveness of Global Protected Areas for Climate Change Mitigation.” Nature News, June 1, 2023. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-38073-9.

[3] Sze, Jocelyne S., et al. “Indigenous Lands in Protected Areas Have High Forest Integrity across the Tropic.” Current Biology, October 26, 2022. https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(22)01540-8.

[4] Osorio, Karen. “A Renewed Focus on Direct Financing at International Climate Summits.” Rainforest Foundation US, November 22, 2022. https://rainforestfoundation.org/a-renewed-focus-on-direct-financing-at-international-climate-summits/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%202021%20RFN,the%20IPLC%20organizations%20and%20communities.

Los artículos sobre “cowboys del carbono” obtienen clics pero corren el riesgo de ignorar lo que las comunidades indígenas realmente están diciendo

El espacio de las finanzas climáticas está en riesgo. Frente a una avalancha de cobertura mediática impulsada por una agenda que busca desacreditar una de las mayores fuentes de financiamiento disponibles para la protección de los bosques, los mecanismos como REDD+ y los mercados voluntarios de carbono pueden verse injustamente desacreditados hasta el punto de perder impulso y apoyo en un momento crítico para la acción climática. Los créditos REDD+, específicamente los proyectos financiados a través del Mercado Voluntario de Carbono (VCM, en el acrónimo en inglés), han enfrentado crecientes críticas por parte de los medios de comunicación durante el último año. Sin embargo, lo que estos artículos demasiado generalizados a menudo ignoran son las experiencias y perspectivas de los Pueblos Indígenas y Comunidades Locales (PICL). Estas comunidades son las que están en el territorio, gestionando activamente la tierra. Ellos son los que están presenciando y experimentando los efectos positivos de REDD+ y otros créditos de carbono bien ejecutados, y muchos están expresando su apoyo alto y claro. Deberíamos escuchar más a las personas que tienen la experiencia de proyectos REDD+, que a los críticos externos del Norte Global.

La deforestación y la degradación de los bosques están muy difundidas y representan 11 % de las emisiones de carbono en todo el mundo cada año.[1] Sin embargo, a través de la deforestación evitada, aproximadamente el total de un año de emisiones globales de combustibles fósiles se almacenan actualmente en tierras protegidas,[2] especialmente en tierras protegidas que se superponen con tierras indígenas,[3] siendo la Amazonía brasileña responsable del 36% de este carbono. Este es un gran impulso para aumentar las salvaguardias para la selva amazónica, aumentar la financiación climática directa para los pueblos indígenas que la protegen y reforzar un apoyo más amplio para esa financiación.

Los PICL son fundamentales para la protección de la Amazonía. Defienden sus bosques contra el acaparamiento de tierras, las actividades y la explotación ilegales y los conflictos por la tierra, pero según algunas estimaciones reciben menos del 1 % de los fondos para la mitigación climática.[4] Los créditos REDD+, tanto a través de programas jurisdiccionales como de VCM, son una de las mejores herramientas disponibles para aprovechar el financiamiento directo para apoyar los derechos y medios de subsistencia de los PICL. Esto permite que estos pueblos y comunidades continúen protegiendo sus territorios, incluyendo la biodiversidad y las reservas de carbono en sus fronteras.

A principios de este año, un grupo de organizaciones lideradas por indígenas con base en el Sur Global que trabajan en más de 40 países publicaron una carta abierta en apoyo al REDD+. Enfatizaron que el REDD+ es actualmente una de las únicas formas de acceder directamente al financiamiento climático, y el cual permite a los PICL continuar protegiendo y monitoreando sus territorios utilizando métodos tradicionales; que buscan economías sostenibles y basadas en la naturaleza en consonancia con sus valores culturales; y que garanticen los derechos legales sobre sus tierras. Cuando los medios eligen enfocarse en los aspectos negativos de REDD+ para probar un punto, dañan directamente a las comunidades y perpetúan su exclusión de las conversaciones y decisiones en las que tienen derecho a participar. Los PICL están a la vanguardia de la defensa de los bosques, y es fundamental que se escuchen sus necesidades y se apoyen sus llamados a la acción.

Esto no quiere decir que REDD+ no tenga fallas. Para que los créditos REDD+ sean efectivos, estos deben ser de la más alta integridad. Esto significa que los proyectos y programas jurisdiccionales deben proporcionar tanto el secuestro del carbono como beneficios comunitarios directos. Esto se hace involucrando a los PICL como socios iguales desde el primer día para garantizar que se respeten sus derechos e intereses. Los proyectos de carbono de alta integridad siguen las pautas del Consentimiento Libre, Previo e Informado (FPIC, en el acrónimo en inglés), permiten el acceso directo de los PICL a los mercados de carbono y reconocen sus derechos a cualquier crédito de carbono desarrollado en su tierra. Los proyectos y programas jurisdiccionales también deben garantizar una distribución equitativa y transparente de los beneficios en consulta con las comunidades. Si bien es importante que los medios de comunicación promuevan REDD+ de alta integridad y hagan que los actores del mercado rindan cuentas, las historias que se cuenten también deben ser equilibradas. Desacreditar los malos créditos, sí, pero aprovechar este momento como una oportunidad para resaltar el REDD+ bien hecho. Elogiarlo públicamente es un medio poderoso para apoyar los proyectos de alta integridad y los programas jurisdiccionales que el mundo necesita para tomar medidas climáticas a la escala necesaria para lograr los objetivos climáticos globales.

Muchos de estos componentes de integridad provienen de precedentes establecidos por el Proyecto de Carbono Forestal Suruí, el primer proyecto REDD+ liderado por indígenas, lanzado en 2009 por Forest Trends con el pueblo Suruí y otros socios locales, incluido el Instituto para la Conservación y el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Amazonía (Idesam), el Equipo de Conservación de la Amazonía (ECAM), el Fondo Brasileño para la Biodiversidad (Funbio) y Kanindé. En ese momento, la deforestación evitada no era un término reconocido oficialmente, lo que significa que muchas de las metodologías de este proyecto se crearon y probaron por primera vez. A pesar de varios desafíos y su interrupción final en 2018, el proyecto ha reducido drásticamente la deforestación en sus primeros cinco años y ha definido algunos precedentes importantes para proyectos de este tipo en el futuro.

Las historias que hablan de este proyecto a menudo ignoran los logros importantes que alcanzó. Lo que es más importante, el proyecto reconoció a todos los pueblos indígenas de Brasil como propietarios de los créditos de carbono resultantes de los proyectos desarrollados en sus tierras. También financió seis iniciativas económicas autosuficientes, como la producción de castaña y artesanías, que continúan generando ingresos para estas comunidades hasta el día de hoy. El Proyecto de Carbono Forestal Suruí también fue uno de los primeros usos completamente documentados del proceso de FPIC.

Para continuar con estos esfuerzos, la Iniciativa de Comunidades y Gobernanza Territorial de Forest Trends está trabajando con organizaciones socias de los PICL, donantes, empresas y otras instituciones para monitorear y promover proyectos de carbono de alta integridad y financiados por jurisdicciones que brinden beneficios ambientales y socioeconómicos directos a estos pueblos y comunidades. Creemos que es importante promover las mejores prácticas y salvaguardas, al mismo tiempo que se coloca el liderazgo y la experiencia de los PICL en el centro del espacio de conservación y financiamiento climático.

Con ese fin, también co-fundamos Peoples Forests Partnership, lanzado en la COP26 en Glasgow para promover las mejores prácticas para proyectos de alta integridad en el Mercado Voluntario de Carbono entre los PICL y los desarrolladores de carbono. En 2022 también lanzamos el Mecanismo de Gobernanza Territorial con tres importantes organizaciones regionales indígenas y comunitarias locales en Amazonia y Mesoamérica (AMPB, CONFENIA y AIDESEP) para ayudar a las comunidades a desarrollar la capacidad que necesitan para proteger sus territorios y defender sus intereses en mercados y contextos políticos que cambian rápidamente. Cuando cuentan con apoyo directo para la gobernanza de sus comunidades, pueden proteger de manera más efectiva sus territorios, medios de vida y la biodiversidad y las reservas de carbono en sus tierras, todo lo cual se suma a créditos de carbono de alta integridad y proyectos exitosos.

El mes pasado, dirigimos un curso de capacitación con el Ministerio de Pueblos Indígenas de Brasil sobre los desafíos y oportunidades que enfrentan los pueblos indígenas en Brasil con los mecanismos de financiamiento climático, como los mercados de carbono y los programas jurisdiccionales de REDD+. Esta colaboración llega en un momento crítico para el gobierno brasileño; están preparando un nuevo proyecto de ley que determinará la estructura del mercado de carbono brasileño, y es fundamental que las perspectivas indígenas formen parte de esta discusión y que sus derechos sean protegidos en la política nacional.

A medida que trabajamos para alcanzar los objetivos climáticos globales, los instrumentos basados ​​en el mercado desempeñarán un papel importante para llevar el financiamiento climático a las comunidades locales. El financiamiento público y filantrópico por sí solo no es suficiente para cambiar el paradigma histórico de explotación y deforestación en los territorios indígenas. Cuando se hace bien, las compensaciones pueden ser una gran solución a medida que avanzamos hacia una bioeconomía a largo plazo basada en la naturaleza.

Cuando los “cowboys del carbono” y los artículos sobre el mercado del carbono generalizan en exceso los mecanismos de financiamiento climático como REDD+, y deciden que todos los proyectos deben ser maliciosos, existe el potencial de acabar con la financiación. Quizás esa sea la intención. Las empresas ya están dando señales de vacilación para continuar con el financiamiento del carbono después de un período de cobertura mediática negativa de las que lo hicieron. El financiamiento climático ya es un espacio increíblemente complejo y técnico, y agregar más incertidumbre perjudica a los PICL que necesitan este financiamiento ahora para asegurar sus derechos y mantener sus bosques en pie.

Espero que, en el futuro, REDD+ de alta integridad continúe con plena vigencia y que los proyectos y programas jurisdiccionales se intensifiquen para satisfacer las necesidades de los administradores de bosques indígenas. La financiación guiada por el respeto de los derechos, conocimientos y medios de vida de las comunidades indígenas y tradicionales es fundamental para hacer frente al cambio climático, conservar los bosques y apoyar a las comunidades.

Sobre el autor: Beto Borges es Director de la Iniciativa de Comunidades y Gobernanza Territorial de Forest Trends

[1] Dunne, Daisy. “Deforestation Has Driven up Hottest Day Temperatures, Study Says.” Carbon Brief, April 23, 2018. https://www.carbonbrief.org/deforestation-has-driven-up-hottest-day-temperatures/.

[2] Duncanson, L., et al. “The Effectiveness of Global Protected Areas for Climate Change Mitigation.” Nature News, June 1, 2023. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-38073-9.

[3] Sze, Jocelyne S., et al. “Indigenous Lands in Protected Areas Have High Forest Integrity across the Tropic.” Current Biology, October 26, 2022. https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(22)01540-8.

[4] Osorio, Karen. “A Renewed Focus on Direct Financing at International Climate Summits.” Rainforest Foundation US, November 22, 2022.https://rainforestfoundation.org/a-renewed-focus-on-direct-financing-at-international-climate-summits/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%202021%20RFN,the%20IPLC%20organizations%20and%20communities.

Official Launch of Football for Forests
Press Release

18 July 2023 | Football for Forests, a joint initiative created by think tank Climate Focus and Planet League, is committed to the restoration of tropical forests through the unity and passion of the global
football community.

To achieve this goal, the Football for Forests app was created. It was  officially launched during an evening event at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei in Berlin, jointly hosted by Football for Forests represented by Dr Charlotte Streck, Director of Climate Focus, and the global initiative We Play Green, represented by Morten Thorsby, the Norwegian international and 1. FC Union Berlin Player.

Morten Thorsby expresses his commitment to the initiative and its underlying principles, stating, “Rainforests hold immense significance for humanity. I firmly believe that We Play Green and Football for Forests can harness the power of the global football family to protect these ecosystems. We all have a role to play!”

Dr Charlotte Streck emphasizes the urgency to take action, stating, “The statistics speak for themselves: 17 football pitches worth of forest are destroyed every minute, totalling more than 1,500 football pitches during a single football match. This is a drastic and cruel reality that underscores the fact that this is no longer a game. It is vital that we all step up and actively fight against the destruction of our forests, preserving our habitat.”

Do good, have fun!
The Football for Forests app brings together the concepts of doing good and having fun. In the Forest Restoration League, both individuals and companies can pledge a monetary amount for every goal scored by their favourite team throughout the football season under the banner of Join the Team and Save the Tropical Forests! They can then track in realtime which team becomes the champion of tropical forest restoration. The Forest Restoration League allows football fans, clubs, and corporate sponsors to compete against each other and support their team through forest restoration.

The founders rely on the passion and dedication of the worldwide football community, as Dr Charlotte Streck explains,

“Football for Forests provides a unique opportunity for everyone to actively participate in forest restoration. Every goal, every fan, every company and every sponsor helps restore forests. Not only that, Football for Forests makes reforestation enjoyable! I am confident that together we can achieve great things. If the global fan community doesn’t have the power to counter deforestation, then who does?”

To further mobilise the fan base in anticipation of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup, Football for Forests has released a special edition of the app. As Australia and New Zealand jointly host the tournament, the Forest Restoration League will expand to include national teams participating in the event.

Transparency and Traceability as Top Priorities
Donations received through the app directly fund forest rehabilitation projects in the Amazon region, currently focused on Colombia with plans for future expansion into Brazil. Ensuring transparency and traceability of funds for the fans and sponsors is of utmost importance to the founders. Therefore, Julio Rozo Grisales, Project Leader at Amazonia Emprende, a partner organization of Football for Forests, will be present at the launch event to share insights into their on-site work in Colombia.

“Through tree planting, we have already restored 30 pitches in Caquetá, in the Colombian Amazon region. Everyone can contribute, we involve local communities in reforestation efforts and collaborate with youth groups through a forest school, known as Escuela de Bosques. We aim to create awareness and sensitize all population groups to this issue, harnessing the power of the local community to protect our forests,” emphasizes Julio Rozo Grisales.

Prominent Support from Politics, Business and the Wider Society
Even before the official launch, Football for Forests has garnered broad support from politics, business and society. The Federal Foreign Office, represented by Jennifer Morgan, State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Policy, has assumed patronage for today’s launch.

Jennifer Morgan underscores the importance of teamwork and collective effort in both football and climate diplomacy, stating, “As the Federal Foreign Office, we support the Football for Forests initiative, merging the enthusiasm for football with efforts for climate protection and tropical forest restoration.”

Several prominent individuals are also endorsing the initiative. Philipp Köster, journalist, football expert and founder of the magazine “11FREUNDE,” will host the evening’s event and moderate conversations between renowned personalities such as Elin Linnéa Landström, Swedish professional footballer and player of AS Roma; Rachel Corboz, French-American professional footballer and player of Stade de Reims; and Almuth Schult, former professional footballer and TV expert. Almuth Schult supports Football for Forests as an ambassador along with many other notable figures, including Tabea Kemme, former professional footballer and Women’s World Cup pundit for the upcoming tournament in Australia and New Zealand.

Philipp Köster expresses his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “I know how much football moves people. I am thrilled that this passion, usually seen on the pitch and in the stands, is now directly contributing to the vital protection of tropical forests!”

Almuth Schult shares her excitement, highlighting the collective impact beyond the pitch: “When players come together, they can have a significant influence on issues beyond the game. By working together, we can make a tangible contribution to the preservation and reforestation of rainforests. I am delighted to be part of the We Play Green team and support the Football for Forests initiative.”

Tabea Kemme reinforces the importance of individual responsibility as an ambassador for the initiative, stating, “We all need to take a stand and take action, and Football for Forests provides a platform to do just that. Download the app and get involved. Every goal counts, and everyone can contribute to making a difference.”

For more information about Football for Forests, please visit:

“Carbon cowboy” pieces get clicks, but at the risk of ignoring what indigenous communities are actually saying

The climate finance space is at risk. Confronted with an onslaught of agenda-driven media coverage aiming to discredit one of the largest sources of funding available for forest protection, mechanisms like REDD+ and voluntary carbon markets could be unfairly discredited to the point of losing momentum and support at a critical time for climate action. REDD+ credits, specifically projects financed through the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM), have faced increasing criticism in the media over the past year. What these over-generalized pieces often gloss over, however, are the experiences and perspectives of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). These communities are the ones on the ground, actively managing the land. They witness and experience the positive effects of REDD+ and other carbon credits done well, and many are voicing their support loud and clear. We should be listening more to the people experiencing REDD+ projects than we do outside critics from the Global North.

Deforestation and forest degradation are widespread, accounting for 11 percent of carbon emissions worldwide per year.[1] However, through avoided deforestation, about a year’s worth of global fossil fuel emissions are currently stored on protected lands,[2] particularly protected lands overlapping with indigenous lands,[3] with the Brazilian Amazon accounting for 36 percent of this carbon. This is a great incentive to ramp up safeguards for the Amazon Forest, increase direct climate funding for the indigenous stewards protecting it, and bolster more widespread support for this funding.

IPLCs are central to protecting the Amazon. They defend their forests from land grabbing, illegal activities and exploitation, and land conflicts, yet by some estimates, receive less than 1 percent of climate mitigation finance.[4] REDD+ credits, both through jurisdictional programs and the VCM, are one of the best available tools for driving direct finance to support the rights and livelihoods of IPLCs. Doing so allows them to continue protecting their territories, including the biodiversity and carbon stores in their borders.

Earlier this year, a group of indigenous-led and Global South-based organizations working in over 40 countries released an open letter in support of REDD+. They emphasized that REDD+ is currently one of the only ways for them to directly access climate finance. REDD+ enables them to keep protecting and monitoring their territories using traditional methods; to pursue sustainable, nature-based economies in alignment with their cultural values; and to secure legal rights to their lands. When media choose to focus on the negative aspects of REDD+ for the sake of proving a point, it directly harms communities and perpetuates their exclusion from conversations and decisions they have a right to participate in. IPLCs are on the frontlines of forest defense, and it is critical that we listen to their needs and support their calls to action.

This is not to say that REDD+ is without any flaws. For REDD+ credits to be effective, they must be of the highest integrity. That means projects and jurisdictional programs must deliver on both carbon sequestration and direct community benefits. This is done by engaging IPLCs as equitable partners from day one to ensure their rights and interests are respected. High-integrity carbon projects follow Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) guidelines, enable direct access to carbon markets for IPLCs, and acknowledge their rights to any carbon credits developed on their land. Projects and jurisdictional programs must also ensure equitable and transparent benefit-sharing in consultation with communities. While it is important for media to promote high-integrity REDD+ and hold market actors accountable, the stories told must also be balanced. Discredit the bad credits, yes, but then take that moment as an opportunity to highlight REDD+ done well. Publicly praising them is a powerful means of supporting high-integrity projects and jurisdictional programs that the world needs to achieve climate action at the scale necessary to meet global climate goals.

Many of these components for integrity stem from precedents set by the Suruí Forest Carbon Project, the first indigenous-led REDD+ project, launched in 2009 by Forest Trends with the Suruí people and other local partners, including the Institute of Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon (IDESAM), Equipe de Conservação da Amazônia (ECAM), Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (FUMBIO), and Kanindé. At that time, avoided deforestation was not an officially recognized term, meaning many of the methodologies in this project were created and tested for the first time. Despite several challenges and its ultimate discontinuation in 2018, the project dramatically reduced deforestation in its first five years and set some important precedents for projects of its kind going forward.

Stories that discuss this project often ignore the important milestones it achieved. Most importantly, it recognized all indigenous peoples in Brazil as owners of any carbon credits resulting from projects developed on their lands. It also funded six self-sufficient economic initiatives, such as Brazil nut and handicraft production, which continue to provide income for those communities today. The Suruí Forest Carbon Project was also one of the first fully documented uses of the FPIC process.

To continue these efforts, Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative is working with IPLC partner organizations, donors, companies, and other institutions to monitor and promote high-integrity carbon projects and jurisdictional-level funding that provides direct environmental and socioeconomic benefits for IPLCs. We believe it is important to promote best practices and safeguards, all while putting IPLC leadership and knowledge center stage in the climate and conservation finance space.

Toward this end, we also co-founded the Peoples Forests Partnership, launched at COP26 in Glasgow to promote best practices for high-integrity projects in the Voluntary Carbon Market between IPLCs and carbon developers. In 2022, we also launched the Territorial Governance Facility with three important regional indigenous and local community organizations in Amazonia and Mesoamerica (AMPB, CONFENIAE, and AIDESEP) to assist communities in building the capacity they need to protect their territories and advocate for themselves in rapidly changing markets and political contexts. When they have direct support for governance of their communities, they can more effectively protect their territories, ways of life, and the biodiversity and carbon stores on their land – all things that lead to high integrity carbon credits and successful projects.

Just last month, we led a training course with the Brazilian Ministry of Indigenous Peoples on the challenges and opportunities indigenous peoples in Brazil face with climate finance mechanisms, such as carbon markets and jurisdictional REDD+ programs. This collaboration comes at a critical moment for the Brazilian Government; they are preparing a new bill that will determine the structure of the Brazilian carbon market, and it is essential that indigenous perspectives are a part of this discussion and that their rights are protected in national policy.

As we work to meet global climate goals, market instruments will play an important role in getting climate finance to communities on the ground. Public and philanthropic funding is not enough on its own to shift the paradigm of historical exploitation and deforestation in indigenous territories. When done right, offsets can be a great solution as we shift towards a nature-based bioeconomy in the long term.

When “carbon cowboy” and carbon market hit pieces overgeneralize climate finance mechanisms like REDD+, deciding that all projects must be ill-intentioned, this has the potential to stop funding all together. Perhaps this is the intention. Companies are already signaling hesitancy to continue their carbon funding after a period of rough media coverage of those who have. Climate finance is already an incredibly complex and technical space, and adding more uncertainty is a disservice to IPLCs who need this funding now to secure their rights and keep their forests standing.

I hope that going forward, high-integrity REDD+ will continue in full force, and that projects and jurisdictional programs will step up to meet the needs of indigenous forest stewards. Finance driven by respect for indigenous rights, knowledge, and livelihoods is critical to address climate change, conserve forests, and support communities.


About the author: Beto Borges is Director of Forest Trends’ Communities and Territorial Governance Initiative


[1] Dunne, Daisy. “Deforestation Has Driven up Hottest Day Temperatures, Study Says.” Carbon Brief, April 23, 2018. https://www.carbonbrief.org/deforestation-has-driven-up-hottest-day-temperatures/.

[2] Duncanson, L., et al. “The Effectiveness of Global Protected Areas for Climate Change Mitigation.” Nature News, June 1, 2023. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-38073-9.

[3] Sze, Jocelyne S., et al. “Indigenous Lands in Protected Areas Have High Forest Integrity across the Tropic.” Current Biology, October 26, 2022. https://www.cell.com/current-biology/fulltext/S0960-9822(22)01540-8.

[4] Osorio, Karen. “A Renewed Focus on Direct Financing at International Climate Summits.” Rainforest Foundation US, November 22, 2022. https://rainforestfoundation.org/a-renewed-focus-on-direct-financing-at-international-climate-summits/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%202021%20RFN,the%20IPLC%20organizations%20and%20communities.

New Corporate Guidance on Carbon Credit Claims for Net Zero Launched by VCMI
Press Release

28th June 2023 — The Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative has published its Claims Code of Practice, which will give companies a rulebook to follow for making credible climate claims, helping to build market confidence in how they engage with VCMs. The VCMI is supported by a broad range of international organizations, governments, companies, NGOs and civil society, and the rulebook has been broadly welcomed by climate experts around the world.

The Claims Code fills a critical gap, bringing integrity to the demand side of VCMs. It clarifies the complex landscape of voluntary carbon markets by providing companies with a rulebook for high-integrity voluntary use of carbon credits and associated claims on the pathway to net zero.

Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 comments: “This is a decisive decade and a decisive year for tackling climate change. We are woefully off-track from where we need to be and we need to use all the tools in the box, working at full pace. The voluntary carbon market is one tool that can mobilize the much-needed finance to low and middle-income countries towards climate solutions that will accelerate the net-zero transition. It’s not too late to drive progress, and the VCMI Claims Code released today is a welcome step forward.”

The Claims Code has three tiers of claims that companies can make – Platinum, Gold and Silver, each of which recognizes investment in GHG emission reductions and removals above and beyond corporate action to meet their science-aligned targets. This work will be supported by additional guidance in November 2023, specifically on the VCMI Measurement, Reporting and Assurance (MRA) framework, additional claim tiers and claim names.

The Claims Code consists of four steps that a company must undertake to make a VCMI Claim:

  1. It must first meet VCMI’s Foundational Criteria, which serve as the backbone of an ambitious and robust climate strategy;
  2. It must then select which VCMI Claim to make (Platinum, Gold or Silver);
  3. To make the claim, the company must select carbon credits which meet stringent quality thresholds in line with the Integrity Council for Voluntary Carbon Markets (IC-VCM) Core Carbon Principles (CCPs);
  4. Finally, the company must disclose information to support its claim and conduct independent validation and assurance in line with the VCMI MRV and Assurance Framework (to be published in November 2023.)

Claims Code developed through an open, inclusive and consultative multi-stakeholder process

The Claims Code is the culmination of over 12 months of road testing by companies, public consultations and multi-stakeholder collaboration, following the publication of the provisional Claims Code in June 2022. The process has been informed by input from leading non-profits, VCMI’s Steering Committee, its high-level decision-making body, as well as guidance from VCMI’s Executive Advisory Group (EAG). These bodies include experienced VCM voices, such as indigenous and civil society leaders, independent net-zero experts, corporate sustainability leads, governments, regulators and academics.

Rachel Kyte, Co-Chair of VCMI’s Steering Committee said: “Voluntary carbon markets bring considerable benefits as part of companies’ net-zero transition and as a means of financing climate transition worldwide. Against a backdrop of recent criticism, we are now at a juncture where only consistent, well-considered global guidance can underpin a high-quality market and stimulate the rapid scaling of corporate use we need. The Claims Code will give greater confidence and develop trust in those who use it. If you build integrity, trust will follow, and trust is the foundation of a high value, high impact market.”

VCMI has worked closely on the Claims Code with other major initiatives driving corporate climate action to ensure there is a robust, clear and integrated framework for companies to follow as they transition to net zero, including: the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHGP); Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi); the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM); and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). Its work has also benefitted from the efforts of the We Mean Business Coalition, and emerging government and civil society efforts to accelerate the adoption of climate transition plans.

Maria Mendiluce, CEO at We Mean Business Coalition comments: “VCMI’s Claims Code has created a set of guidance that is ambitious and bold in its vision and will help companies mobilize credible climate finance to reach our global net-zero goals. We are delighted to partner with the Initiative and look forward to supporting companies on their journey to make a VCMI claim.”

Annette Nazareth, Chair of the IC-VCM comments: “VCMI’s guidance on credible claims complements the Integrity Council’s work to establish a global benchmark for high-integrity carbon credits that will give buyers confidence they are funding projects making a genuine impact on emissions. By creating end-to-end high integrity throughout the voluntary carbon market, from the supply of credits, to the markets they trade in, and ultimately how they are used, we can unlock investment at speed and scale for climate solutions that would not otherwise be viable.”

VCMI is also today constituting its Stakeholder Forum with a broad range of participants. The Stakeholder Forum will provide a sounding board for VCMI, helping improve its guidance and shaping the additional modules that will be delivered later in 2023.

A high-integrity VCM can meaningfully contribute to the Paris Agreement goals and the UN SDGs

Much more needs to be done to generate the finance needed to unlock GHG mitigation potential across the world and support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). VCMs have a key role to play in this, especially in the short-term while robust economy-wide policies and financing mechanisms at the scale needed are put in place. Companies investing in tackling beyond value-chain emissions through high-quality carbon credits is a critical tool to deploy.

Ali Mohamed, Climate Change Envoy in Kenya comments: “Kenya welcomes VCMI’s Claims Code of Practice and its clear guidance to organizations on credible use of high-quality carbon credits, towards net-zero commitments. As we aim to lead in the supply of these quality units, high demand-side integrity will accelerate the flow of carbon finance to all our local communities and foster green economic growth. Our upcoming carbon market regulations will inspire significant investments into impactful voluntary carbon market activities, whilst ensuring strong governance and transparency. We believe the Claims Code will build trust and contribute to international cooperation towards the 1.5 degree goal.”

Now is the time for action: VCMI calls on all companies to implement the Claims Code and help unleash the full potential of high-integrity VCMs.

The Claims Code enables companies around the world to understand how they can use carbon credits in their climate strategies in a way that is accepted by consumers, investors, civil society, government regulators, and policymakers. By following the Claims Code, companies will be able to demonstrate their climate leadership, mitigate potential risks to their reputation, and position themselves to succeed in a world transitioning to a prosperous low-carbon future.

Tariye Gbadegesin, Co-Chair of VCMI’s Steering Committee said: “Integrity is what will make the VCM a powerful tool that gets us to a net-zero world and mobilizes much-needed finance to low- and middle income-countries, faster. Clear and transparent guidance about the voluntary use of carbon credits has been missing. Now that the VCMI Claims Code is available to guide corporate claims made with the use of VCMs and eventually when paired with ICVCM’s Core Carbon Principles guiding supply, market participants have the key ingredients of what we call “end to end” integrity which will enable this crucial market development.”

The Claims Code was unveiled at a virtual event today, where representatives of governments and the official sector, business and civil society discussed the details and contents of the Claims Code of Practice. A recording of the event can be found here [https://vcmintegrity.org/claims-code-launch-event/].

Voices from the Forest: In Kenya, a Carbon Project’s “Co-benefits” Take Center Stage

29 June 2023 | KASIGAU CORRIDOR | Kenya| Catherine Simba administers 32 schools across southern Kenya, an arid farming region that’s also the home and a migratory route for elephants, giraffes, zebras, and other animals that coexist with people.

We saw these stunning animals from the windows of the train that we took from Nairobi and from the safari van as we traveled around on the maze of unmarked dirt roads that we took to meet Ms. Simba at one of her schools.

This natural spectacle was not lost on me. Having grown up near New York City, until visiting Kenya, I had only seen such animals in zoos, films, and children’s stories.

Known as the Kasigau Corridor, this region connects the Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks, and twenty years ago it faced both rampant deforestation and poaching, which led to the decimation of the Rhino population in the region.

Make no mistake, those threats are really symptoms of social stresses such as poverty and hunger. So when the for-profit company Wildlife Works began its conservation work here two decades ago, it aimed to protect nature by empowering people. This ultimately led to the creation of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project.

The REDD+ project finances its operations by generating carbon credits from protecting threatened forests. But for Simba, the project’s value comes in the way it impacts the thousands of squealing children she calls her “babies.”

“Before carbon, the babies weren’t coming to school,” she says, as dozens of those babies swarm to greet her outside the Marungu Primary School.

The government, she says, pays for early education, but it doesn’t cover school lunches, and it doesn’t cover high school or college.

“Carbon gave me a feeding program, so retention in school has increased,” she says. “This is often the only meal they get, and they used to pass out in school.” After the babies graduate, the carbon project will subsidize their secondary and university educations.

Hear from Catherine Simba

To buyers of carbon credits, education is a “co-benefit” or a “beyond carbon” benefit. But market actors tell Ecosystem Marketplace they’re seeing buyers increasingly willing to pay extra for projects that demonstrate verified support for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) other than SDG 13, the goal to reduce climate change.

At the same time, intermediaries say they’re still struggling to explain the value of co-benefits to end buyers – largely because most people don’t really understand how carbon projects work, and there has been little effort to overcome that education gap.

Ecosystem Marketplace visited the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project for a series of interviews with Wildlife Works staff and people from the local communities to get a feel for how these beyond carbon benefits work on the ground.

Returns from sales of carbon credits have also been used to update bathrooms that offer sanitary conditions and privacy for the children and teachers. They’ve also been used to create reusable sanitary napkins, which the school administration we spoke to say has led to greater attendance rates among the girls.

Hear from Students Riziki Paul & Salma Ibrahim

The benefits themselves are often clear, but the link to emission reductions can be elusive. From the beginning of the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, for example, Wildlife Works has centered communities’ self-governance. Communities choose the development of activities focusing on an array of social, health, and economic development issues. Today the project activities positively impact the project area’s population of over 116,000 people, including the creation of 400 local jobs. It’s also ensured the protection of 20 species of bats, over 50 species of large mammals, over 300 species of birds and critical populations of IUCN Red List species such as the Grevy’s Zebra, African Elephant, lion, and African Wild Dog.

But how do these efforts protect forests – or are they just philanthropic add-ons?

To Simba, the connection is clear. She says education will reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) in the area by helping her babies grow into adults who can earn a living without poaching wildlife or burning trees to make charcoal. It is, in other words, a means to an end and not a philanthropic add-on.

Geoff Mwangi says that’s usually the case, and he argues the terminology is misleading.

“We recognize what you are calling ‘co-benefits’ as ‘core benefits,’” he says.

Mwangi is the lead scientist for biodiversity and social monitoring at Wildlife Works,’ Kasigau Corridor project and he echoes Simba’s contention that the project is reducing deforestation by reducing poverty; the two outcomes cannot be separated.

He adds, however, that it’s also harder to reduce deforestation by reducing poverty than it is to, say, encourage IFM in developing countries, and he emphasizes that SDGs don’t always lead directly to reduced emissions. Some sustainable development outcomes are byproducts, and some come at a cost to the project. For these reasons, it’s critical to ensure that SDG benefits are properly certified and supported.

Hear from Geoffrey Mwangi

EM’s carbon markets data suggests that many REDD+ projects appear to be excelling particularly when it comes to SDG 5: gender equality.

Constance Mwandaa is a case in point. She grew up in the Kasigau Corridor and became the first female Wildlife Works ranger to patrol the plains. Today, she oversees all training for the force of over 100.

For her, the REDD+ project is about female empowerment. “I have a few girls at home who see what I’m doing, and they say, ‘We can do this!” she says.

And she’s hardly alone. All across the project area, I met women whose lives the project had improved, often in ways that reduce deforestation and dependency on bushmeat.

Constance Mademu, for example, who used to engage in slash-and-burn charcoaling is now employed by Wildlife Works as a part of their sustainable charcoaling micro business built around selective, regulated harvesting and efficient burning.

I also met dozens of women who’ve enrolled in a training program to implement climate-smart agriculture that blends no-till farming with agroforestry. When speaking with them, I asked why mostly women were being trained and are the ones responsible for managing the land. Bluntly, I was told it was because the men were either dead, gone, or inebriated – a response I wasn’t expecting but it did put into focus the social dimension in a new way.

In other areas, people had shifted from charcoaling to beekeeping and honey production. Many were making textiles, t-shirts, and handicrafts – activities made viable because of the carbon finance.

“The income I make here far surpasses what I would earn charcoaling, and it’s also less physically demanding,” said Nora Matunda, who works in a boutique soap factory that Wildlife Works finances through a blend of sales and carbon finance.

“The ultimate goal is to create a sustainable economy built on non-destructive practices such as these, and one that can outlast the carbon project itself,” says Laurian Lenjo, who oversees community outreach along with Joseph Mwakima.

“For now, we need carbon finance to support these activities,” he adds.

The two men spend the bulk of their time bouncing among six administrative districts in the project area, which is home to more than 116,000 people.

I accompanied them to several meetings where villagers were voting on how to spend their carbon payments.

Hear from Joseph Mwakima and Laurian Lenjo

“Different communities identify different needs, but the key point is they get to choose for themselves how to spend it,” says Lenjo. “The initial votes tended towards school facilities, but now we are seeing more diversity. Several villages recently voted to create a health center, because the existing facilities are so far away, while another voted to create a community meeting center.”

Suleiman Mwamanga is a village elder who guided us to a new water tank.

“We elected to build this tank as the drought intensified,” he says. “The water comes from the Chyulu Hills, which provide water across this region.”

Ten years ago, that source had run dry due to degradation in the Chyulu Hills cloud forest — degradation that was reversed by the Chyulu Hills REDD+ project, which saved the forest and revived the springs that flow from it.

In SDG parlance, that project contributed to Goal 6, clean water and sanitation.

As standards develop more and better means of quantifying and certifying SDG impacts, we can hope to see more support for these once-intangible benefits – but only if the sector learns to tell its story more effectively.

Forest Protection Successfully Leads to Reduced Emissions at Global Scale

A study recently published in Nature Communications by researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD), Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, Conservation International and more has found that worldwide protected forests have an additional 9.65 billion metric tons of carbon stored in their aboveground biomass compared to ecologically similar unprotected areas—a finding that quantifies just how important protected areas are in our continued climate mitigation efforts.

This study, which was jointly funded by the National Science Foundation (PI Brian Enquist, University of Arizona) and NASA (PI Laura Duncanson, UMD), used the highly accurate forest height, structure and surface elevation data produced by NASA’s Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI, PI Ralph Dubayah, UMD).The team of researchers compared protected areas’ efficacy in avoiding emissions to the atmosphere with unprotected areas’ ability to do the same and tested the assumption that protected areas provide disproportionately more ecosystem services—including carbon storage and sequestration—than non-protected areas.

The biggest, most climate-positive impact the researchers observed came from the protected, moist broadleaf forest biome in the Brazilian Amazon, with Brazil contributing 36% to the global signal.

Another key finding was that the amount of aboveground biomass—the dry mass of woody matter in vegetation that stands above the ground—gained from protected areas is roughly equivalent to one year of annual global emissions from fossil fuels.

Previous attempts to quantify protected areas biomass content had high uncertainties and/or biases, as past satellite biomass products are known to saturate in high biomass forests, such as old-growth protected areas. GEDI data helped the researchers overcome these limitations.

The researchers specifically used height, cover, PAI (Plant Area Index), and AGBD (Above Ground Biomass Density) products from the first 18 months of GEDI mission data, which was collected between April 2019 and September 2020. In total, the researchers—which also include UMD’s Mengyu (Amber) Liang, Veronika Leitold and John Armston—analyzed more than 400 million 3D structure samples and matched each protected area to ecologically similar unprotected areas based on climate, human pressure, land type, country and other factors.

The researchers’ study highlights the urgency of protection and restoration for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation, as emphasized by the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC found that nature-based solutions such as reducing the destruction of forests and other ecosystems, restoring them and improving the management of working lands, such as farms, are among the top five most effective strategies for mitigating carbon emissions by 2030.

“Protected areas are an essential part of the conservation toolkit. They confer enormous benefits in the form of living carbon, essential to mitigate climate change’s worst effects,” said Patrick Roehrdanz, director of Climate Change and Biodiversity at Conservation International. “This research reflects the importance of the Convention on Biological Diversity target—of achieving 30 percent protection of all ecosystems—as an effective strategy to address more than one of the biggest environmental crises we face: biodiversity loss and climate change.”

World Bank: Carbon Markets Resilient in a High-Pressure 2022, with Seismic Changes Afoot

Emissions trading systems and carbon taxes showed themselves to be resilient in the last year. Despite a global energy crisis, high inflation, and fiscal pressures, emissions trading systems (ETSs) and carbon taxes posted record high revenues, according to the World Bank’s just-released State and Trends in Carbon Pricing 2023 

Through our partnership with the World Bank, Ecosystem Marketplace (EM) provided an early cut of our 2022 voluntary carbon market (VCM) trade data, representing a subset of all EM Respondents who had disclosed their carbon credit sales data through our new EM Global Carbon Markets Hub in time for this report’s data lock.  

Among the key findings of the report:  

  • The price differential between OTC and exchanges is widening. We continue to see a divergence between over-the-counter (OTC) and exchange-traded markets. In 2022, exchange-traded credit prices fell. But OTC market participants tracked in this report saw their credit prices increase by a massive 70%, averaging $6.83/ton in 2022. It’s important to note that this is a preliminary figure based on a subset of the overall market; EM’s forthcoming State of the Voluntary Carbon Market will include our complete and final 2022 data.  
  • The number of implemented ETSs and carbon taxes now stands at 77, with the share of global GHG emissions covered around 23%. In 2022, a number of jurisdictions either delivered on existing plans for new ETSs or taxes, increased their ambition, or announced further proposals for developing new initiatives in the coming years. While the uptake of ETSs and carbon taxes is on the rise in emerging economies, high-income countries still dominate. 
  • Record high revenues from ETSs and carbon taxes approached USD 100 billion. Almost 40% of the revenue is earmarked for green spending, and 10% is used to compensate households or businesses – both are seen as a way to increase support for these policies.  
  • Still, carbon markets remain overwhelmingly driven by voluntary demand. The vast majority of retirements continue to come from voluntary, not compliance, buyers. 
  • After two years of rapid growth, carbon credit markets slowed in 2022. EM data showed a 1.3% decline in overall retirements from 2021, with 196 million credits retired in 2022. 
  • Nature-based solutions show signs of overtaking renewable energy for market share. Renewable energy has historically dominated market supply, and it still does: the share of carbon credits issued from renewable energy activities has been trending upward since 2018, accounting for 55% of issuances in 2022. However, we’ve seen the cost of renewable energy fall dramatically over the last decade – which means that carbon revenues are increasingly less necessary to make investments in renewable energy economically attractive, presaging a dwindling down of RE credits in the carbon markets.  Meanwhile EM data shows that 54% of new project registrations in 2022 were for forestry and land use projects. Caveat: forestry and land use credits issuances have risen and fallen in recent years. EM saw a substantial drop in both absolute and relative terms in 2022. But the registration data suggests another expansion is on the horizon. Still, don’t count RE out just yet: in 2022, 52% of credit retirements were from renewable energy projects, up from 44% in 2021. RE credits are still widely available, and among the least expensive credit type.  
  • The carbon credit market continues to grow in diversity and sophistication, as new investors, financial products, technological platforms, and service providers lay the foundations for what some expect will be a decade of significant growth. Article 6 implementation also continues to advance as more countries sign bilateral cooperation agreements and the first activities to generate authorized emissions reductions are developed.  And new integrity initiatives are promising to promote standardization and improve transparency in carbon credit market. 

 Learn more and download the State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2023 from the World Bank here.